BBC Points West: Dr Shepherd puts the case for covid vaccine priority for people with ME/CFS

March 6, 2021

The vexed question of the failure by many GPs to give people with M.E. a priority for Covid vaccination was covered by this short item on the BBC TV Points West news programme on 4 March 2021.

BBC health correspondent Matthew Hill interviewed Stephanie Kempson, who has M.E., about her concerns about not being allowed so far to be vaccinated against Covid. He then spoke with Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association.

Stephanie, aged 33, said: “A virus can knock me over very easily and it can take me years to recover that that.”

Zoom! Dr Shepherd makes another powerful point on BBC TV Points West

Dr Shepherd told Matthew Hill:

“The commonest cause of relapse in people with M.E. is getting a new infection.

“Our feedback from people over the last 10 months from people who have got M.E. and have caught Covid is that the vast majority have had a significant exacerbation or relapse of their symptom.

“We have got plenty of GPs who are placing their M.E. patients into Group but at the same point we are getting GPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups and Primary Care Networks saying that people with M.E. cannot be placed into Group 6.”

The ME Association has been arguing for several weeks that the rules on Covid vaccination do give doctors the discretion on whether to put their patients with M.E. forward for inoculation.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock stepped into the row in mid-February,

He insisted in an email sent to a constituent, and seen by the ME Association, that GPs are able to exercise their clinical judgement in this matter.

Mr Hancock wrote that doctors could use their own judgement “if there is a risk of Covid-19 exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from Covid-19 itself.”

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