People with severe asthma WILL be prioritised for Covid vaccine after calls for clarity

PEOPLE with severe asthma will be prioritised for Covid vaccines after patients' calls for clarity.

Asthma sufferers who have previously been admitted to hospital or need "continuous or repeated" steroid treatment will be next in line for the jab.

The most severe cases will come under priority group four – the "clinically extremely vulnerable" – and would have previously been advised to shield.

Those that don't fall under the most severe cases will be included in group six – the clinically "at risk".

This includes those who are usually eligible for a free flu jab.

The Government said it's following independent experts' advice and aims to have everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by next week.

ROLL OUT

Age is the biggest risk factor for Covid deaths, so the nine priority groups are based on that as well as protecting frontline healthcare staff.

It means that those in priority group six will be vaccinated after healthy over-65s, but before anyone younger than that without health conditions.

The aim is to start the roll-out to this group, which includes all over-50s, by May.

Campaigners have been calling for clearer guidance on the priority list for asthma sufferers since the vaccine programme began last year.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, said: "We know there has been confusion about when people with asthma will get the Covid-19 vaccine and what priority group they will fall into.

"We have been urging the government for some months to provide this clarity, as we know it’s a worrying time for people with asthma.

"If you’ve received a letter saying that you’re advised to shield and you’re aged under 70, you are clinically extremely vulnerable and are in priority group 4 for the Covid-19 vaccine.

We have been urging the government for some months to provide this clarity, as we know it’s a worrying time for people with asthma

"This means you’ll get your vaccine at the same time as those aged 70-74.

"If you have severe asthma, you might be included in this group, but only if you have received a letter from the government stating that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable."

She continued: "For everyone else with asthma, some will be in priority group 6, depending on what medications they take and how well controlled their asthma is.

"But there is still work to be done to identify who exactly will be in this group.

"What this means is that some people under 50 with asthma will be offered the Covid vaccine after the initial nine priority groups, as the purpose of the first stage of vaccination is to prevent deaths from Covid-19.

"We are continuing to work closely with the government to make sure everyone with asthma is supported and is vaccinated at the right time.


"Identifying who should be in group 6 is a complicated process because of the variation in medication people with asthma take, which is why it’s taking some time.

"However, we are urgently calling on them to provide this information.

"We understand this is a worrying time for a lot of people, but we want to reassure you that the government intends to offer the vaccine to all adults, so even if you aren’t in a priority group you will get the vaccine later this year."

In the meantime, she encouraged everyone to follow the social distancing and stay at home guidance.

BETTER EVIDENCE

Ms Woolnough also reassured that evidence suggests that people with well-controlled asthma that isn't severe aren't at higher risk of dying from Covid.

Throughout the pandemic, asthma sufferers have expressed their fear over being at an increased risk for the virus.

At the start of the first coronavirus lockdown in March last year, people with the condition were placed in the clinically vulnerable group.

But it was unclear at that point how much of a risk the disease posed to asthmatics.

"People with well controlled asthma that is not severe don’t seem to be at higher risk of dying from Covid-19," according to the charity.

"Those with severe asthma, or who need regular or continuous oral steroids, or have a history of asthma attacks that have required an overnight stay in hospital are at higher clinical risk.

 

"As a result, many of these people will be in the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) group.

"However, if you have any type of asthma there is a small increase in the risk of needing to go to hospital if you get Covid-19.

"Although the risk of this happening is small, it’s still very important to follow the restrictions in your area of the country and manage your condition well."

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