ME Association writes to chief medical officer about vaccine priority for ME/CFS

The ME Association has written to Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, to seek clarification on COVID-19 vaccine priority for people with ME/CFS

Dear Professor Whitty and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation,

The ME Association is starting to hear from people with ME/CFS who are being told by their GP that ME/CFS is not an underlying health condition in relation to group 6 in the COVID-19 vaccine priority list that has been drawn up by the JCVI.

I believe this is incorrect because:

1.  Both the World Health Organisation (in ICD10 section G93.3) and NHS England classify ME/CFS as a neurological disease:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/clinical-policy/ltc/our-work-on-long-term-conditions/neurological/

2.  People with a chronic neurological disease are listed as having an underlying health condition in group 6 in the JCVI guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation-advice-on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination-30-december-2020

3.  New infections are the commonest cause of exacerbation or relapse of ME/CFS – as noted in section 3.3.2 of the Chief Medical Officer’s Working Group Report on ME/CFS:

https://meassociation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/CMO-Report-2002.pdf

and in section 1.6.4 of the new (draft) NICE guideline on ME/CFS: 

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/gid-ng10091/documents/draft-guideline

4.  Patient evidence to the ME Association indicates that almost everyone with ME/CFS who has caught COVID-19 has had a very significant and/or prolonged relapse of their ME/CFS.

I would therefore be grateful if you could confirm that people with ME/CFS should be regarded as having an underlying neurological health condition which makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection in relation to the JCVI COVID-19 vaccine priority list.

Regards

Dr Charles Shepherd

Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association

Copy to:

Carol Monaghan MP – Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on ME

Countess of Mar, Forward ME group

Baroness Scott

Baroness Finlay

The ME Association

Please support our vital work

We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.

If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, campaign, and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.

Just click the image opposite or click here for one-off donations or to establish a regular payment.

You can even establish your own fundraising event on JustGiving.

Or why not join the ME Association as a member and be part of our growing community? For a monthly (or annual) subscription you will also receive ME Essential – quite simply the best M.E. magazine!


ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279


ME CONNECT HELPLINE

0344 576 5326

Available every day of the week between these times: 10am - 12noon, 2pm - 4pm and 7pm - 9pm.

Calls cost the same as other standard landline numbers (starting 01 or 02). If you have a call package for your landline or mobile phone then calls will normally come out of your inclusive minutes.