IMAGE DESCRIPTION: An image of a person drawing up a Covid vaccination. Title: The ME Association: Are people with ME/CFS eligible for a Covid booster vaccine? The ME Association Logo (bottom right).

The ME Association: Are people with ME/CFS eligible for a Covid booster vaccine?

We are starting to receive queries about whether people with ME/CFS are going to be eligible for the Spring Covid vaccine booster – if you decide that you would like to have one. The eligiblity criteria have changed and become more restrictive – so they now only cover two basic groups:

  • First: everyone over the age of 75 who wants a booster,
  • Second: people who have immune system suppression – in other words a seriously weakened immune system.

While a wide range of immune system abnormalities have been identified in ME/CFS, these are not sufficiently consistent or robust enough to classify ME/CFS as an immununosuppressed medical condition – although there may be individual cases where this definition might be appropriate.

In fact, some of the research evidence in ME/CFS points towards low level immune system activation (in other words an over-active immune system) rather than immunosuppression.

ME/CFS is not therefore on the list of named immunosuppressed conditions in the guidance that has just been published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The full list of immunosuppressed conditions can be found in tables 3 and 4 in Chapter 14a of the NHS Green Book.

Consequently, unless you are over the age of 75, it's unlikely that you are going to be offered a Spring Covid booster on the basis of having ME/CFS.

Please note that the ME Association is here to provide balanced and accurate information on Covid vaccines – which is what we have been doing since Covid vaccines became available.

We are well aware that some people have suffered an adverse reaction to one of the Covid vaccines and will not want to have another vaccination. On a personal basis, I had a serious reaction to a booster that resulted in vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation).

I am going to carry out some further investigation into eligibility for the Spring booster and will then produce a further summary of the situation.

Further Information

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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