Ewan Dale, Trustee Scotland, ME Association
Writing to NHS Scotland practitioners and services, plus local authorities, (etc), the Chief Medical Officer gives new guidance on the potential inclusion of some ME & CFS patients in Group 6 of the Covid vaccination schedule.
CMO letter GHD/CMO(2021)4, dated 9 March 2021, includes the statements:
10. You will be aware that agreeing the inclusion of a variety of medical conditions and underlying health risks for group 6 has been highly complex. There are of course many rare diseases and conditions, and guidance in the Green Book states that the group 6 list is not exhaustive. Some clinicians may consider some of their patients being at high risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19 based on their clinical assessment, where they are not included in the group 6 list.
11. In relation to such cases, a referral form is attached at Annex B, that should be completed by a clinician and sent to your local NHS Board COVID-19 vaccination contact. This will allow case by case risk assessment to consider vaccination ahead of the age-based call up timeline in the general vaccine delivery programme. We would ask that this is shared across your medical communities.
Of course, this does not mean that a doctor In Scotland (or elsewhere) is bound to include a patient with ME/CFS in Group 6. That will still depend on a doctor's view of the illness and a patient's individual circumstances.
But it should allow for the possibility of those who were not recognised as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (for inclusion in Group 2) to be included in Group 6.
It also provides a good argument for a doctor to change their position, and in case a doctor has not properly considered the CMO's letter, reference to the details above should make the point clearly.
We have amended the ME Association Template Letter to include this new information for Scotland and a reminder about the CPD Module on ME/CFS:
The CMO Scotland's letter corrects the error Professor Jason Leitch made in his statement to the Holyrood Covid Committee on 25 February, 11.12-11.15 where he stated that inclusion in at-risk groups for Covid vaccination priorities is “based on risk of death from Covid”.
That error formed part of the basis for the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport's letter response on 3 March to the MSP who raised the issue.
All this followed the submission of the ME Association’s Template Letter to the CMO regarding risk assessment for vaccination prioritisation, alongside submissions from other ME/CFS and neurological organisations.
We will continue to keep you apprised of any further developments in Scotland and the rest of the UK.