Serious health condition sufferers say they have been overlooked in the jab rollout after the Government chooses to vaccinate people by age once priority groups are done.
by John Siddle, Sunday Mirror, 28 February 2021
Vulnerable Brits say they have been ‘forgotten’ in the vaccines rollout as young and healthy people get jabs.
Those with serious health conditions have been snubbed as a priority for vaccination, they claim.
Yet fit Brits in their 20s and 30s have been sent invites in some areas of the country.
Charities warned that the government’s jabs drive was leaving thousands at unnecessary risk.
More than 20 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the first six priority groups.
Group 6 comprises those aged 16-64 whose serious underlying conditions puts them at high risk of serious illness or death from Covid.
But many who expected to be on the list, compiled by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), claim they have been overlooked.
While a U-turn was made on those with learning disabilities, following a campaign by the BBC DJ Jo Whiley, 55, those with moderate asthma, for example, are still not eligible.
And sufferers of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) – an incurable chronic illness which causes crippling exhaustion – also say they have been overlooked.
The illness, which affects around 250,000 Brits, is listed by the World Health Organisation as a chronic neurological condition.
But patients say they are struggling to get GPs to list them for the vaccine – despite chronic neurological disease appearing on the list of qualifying conditions.
Many with ME are concerned that even mild infection could tip them into a devastating relapse.
Charity the ME Association says sufferers have faced a postcode lottery.
A spokesman said: “ The situation across the UK is far from ideal, with some finding their GPs and vaccination centres are quick to put them into Group 6 when asked, while others are being refused or told to try again later.”
Emma Tripp, 19, from Chandlers Ford, Hants, caught Covid in May and has been bedbound for 10 months after it triggered a relapse of her ME.
The family's surgery told her that her illness does not qualify for priority vaccination.
Emma's mum Claire Tripp, 48, said: “We are just going around in circles. It’s extremely worrying that Emma, who is clearly a clinically vulnerable young lady with a medical history of seriously disabling response to viral illness, is being denied the vaccine at this stage.
“And we are being told this is a blanket decision that doesn’t take into account the effects on her health if she were to catch the virus again.
“It’s just a postcode lottery, isn’t it? If we lived in another part of the country, Emma would likely have had her vaccination by now. As it is, we are being told she’s not eligible.”
“It is baffling to me that I am able to get the vaccine now as her full time carer, but Emma can’t, even though her medical history clearly shows she has an increased vulnerability to viruses.”
Claire Ayshford Smy, 40, from Taunton, Somerset, has two daughters aged 13 and 11.
She said: “In other areas of the country GPs are adding ME patients, when the guidelines are pointed out to them.
“My children return to school on 8th March. Children carry and spread Covid-19. I have stayed at home for a year, trying to protect myself.
“Now I will be vulnerable even though I will still be at home. If I get Covid-19, it would put me at serious risk of ME relapse, unable to function or to look after my children.”
Hannah Price, 41, from Bath, Somerset, has moderate asthma and has been classed as clinically vulnerable throughout the pandemic.
But only severe asthmatics have been listed as priority condition.
Hannah said: “I am really struggling to justify their reasoning and feel totally let down.
“As a group we feel like we have been discarded from society and we really do not matter.”
Asthma UK described the snub as “unacceptable”.
There are also concerns that primary care networks responsible for organising the vaccine rollout are missing significant numbers of elderly people.
While 96 per cent of over-70s have now had a first dose – charities have expressed concern over remaining 4 per cent.
They include thousands of people physically housebound and those fearful of leaving home.
Ruthe Isden of Age UK said: “We are talking about people in the highest-risk groups – it’s not good enough to say we have done enough.”
Adults in their 20s have reported on social media getting jabs despite not being in the six priority groups.
The Department of Health and Social Care said prioritisation was based on preventing “as many deaths as possible”.
A spokesman said: “It is estimated vaccinating everyone in the priority groups would prevent around 99 per cent of deaths from Covid-19”.
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