The Times: Asthma and ME sufferers miss out in database chaos.

March 5, 2021

Sean O’Neill

Dr Shepherd was interviewed by Sean O’Neill for this article which appeared in the print edition of The Times yesterday.

It highlights some of the confusion and frustration people with ME/CFS are experiencing when trying to gain priority access to the Covid vaccine.

Visit this section of the MEA website to access free Covid information, the Group 6 eligibility template letter, and to submit your feedback.

The Times: Asthma and ME sufferers miss out in database chaos.
By Sean O’Neill

High-risk asthma patients are being denied priority access to vaccines because of problems with GP databases.

The charity Asthma UK told The Times that “an unacceptable postcode lottery” was developing because doctors could not view patients’ full hospital records or medication histories.

Vulnerable people with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) are also encountering difference approaches despite the health secretary promising they would “not be forgotten”.

The ME Association said that a “chaotic situation” was emerging, with some health authorities recognising the condition and others rejecting it.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has put people with the most severe asthmatic conditions in priority group four, with others in group six. The criteria for asthma patients includes any period of hospital treatment or three courses of oral steroids in three months. Asthma UK says that the rules are so narrow that GPs cannot find the information.

“We are hearing cases of people with asthma who have had multiple hospital admission, including treatment in intensive care, being turned away,” said Dr Andy Whittamore, of Asthma UK.

Dr Charles Shepherd, of the ME Association, said it has been left to doctors and health authorities to decide whether to vaccinate ME patients. In some cases, sufferers’ parents were vaccinated as full-time carers while the patients themselves were told to wait their turn.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the Covid-19 chairman of the JCVI, said: “As the greatest risk of death from Covid-19 is older age, prioritisation is primarily based on age.”

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