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

January 5, 2021

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:

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

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:

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

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.


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

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