House of Lords parliamentary question on COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for people with underlying health conditions

Dr Charles Shepherd, MEA and APPG on ME Secretariat

Linking in to the APPG on ME meeting on Monday this week, where I briefed MPs and members of the House of Lords on the unacceptable situation whereby some people with ME/CFS are being placed into JCVI group 6 for a COVID-19 vaccination whereas others are being refused, Baroness Scott of Needham Market (a member of the APPG on ME) has tabled a parliamentary question in the House of Lords. 

This has now been responded to by Lord Bethell. The final sentence in Lord Bethell’s reply

They are able to use clinical judgement to take into account the risk of COVID-19 exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from the virus itself.

This ministerial statement should be helpful to people who are still trying to persuade their GP that they can use their clinical judgement to place a person with ME/CFS into JCVI group 6.

Please refer to the Free MEA Template letters available to help those with ME/CFS explain why they should be included in Group 6 and be eligible for priority vaccination as vulnerable people:

Full PQ

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they expect general practitioners to use their clinical judgement in including patients with existing diseases in Group 6 for COVID-19 vaccinations if they consider them to be at risk of exacerbation of their underlying disease should they become infected with COVID-19. (HL14828) 

Answer:
Lord Bethell

Clinicians, including general practitioners (GPs) are able to use their clinical judgement to categorise patients as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) because they consider them to be at very high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Those categorised as CEV are in priority group four of phase one of the vaccination programme. Those who are not categorised as CEV but have underlying conditions that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises have increased clinical risk from COVID-19 are in priority group six. Within the broad set of clinical conditions within priority group six, GPs and other clinicians are able to add individuals to this group. They are able to use clinical judgement to take into account the risk of COVID-19 exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from the virus itself.

Date and time of answer: 23 Apr 2021 

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