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​M.E. and Covid-19 vaccine: your questions

November 23, 2020

We have received a number of questions relating to the Covid-19 vaccine, including:

  • how safe it is for people with M.E. to have it?
  • will/how will it work?
  • will people with M.E. have priority access to it?
  • will it be mandatory to have it?

With regards to the safety and efficacy (ie. how it works), we will be sharing information on this as the UK Government produces it, and will only share from official, trusted sources. Our staff team are not medically trained and are not able to advise on having the vaccine, other than sharing Government information on this. We will also be asking our medical advisors, Dr Gregor Purdie and Prof Julia Newton, to share their view, as soon as more detail becomes available.

Last week, in response to news that biotech company Moderna published “positive efficacy results from its Phase 3 studies of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, showing it to be nearly 95% effective in preventing coronavirus,” the Government said: “We will know whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety and effectiveness once their safety data has been published, and only then can the medicines regulator consider whether it can be made it available to the public.”

With regards to priority access, the UK Government published a list of priority groups for the COVID vaccine in September, and makes clear it that “it was not possible to come to a firm position on priority groups at this time. This provisional prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccines is based on preliminary information on the vaccines in development, and provisional timelines for vaccine availability, and is subject to change.”

On 11 November, independent fact-checkers Fullfact.org said they have seen social media posts that “suggest a government document indicates that the Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory and the government will use the Mental Health Act to section people who refuse the vaccine. This is not the case. The document in question was not written by the government—it was submitted as evidence from a group of law and ethics experts to a parliamentary committee that asked for evidence about how Covid-19 may affect human rights. What it discusses is in no way government policy, or even being proposed by the government."

We will continue to share information about the Covid vaccine as soon as it becomes available, along with general info on Coronavirus and M.E. For information and support about M.E. or Long Covid, please contact us by calling 0117 927 9551 (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm), or emailing questions@actionforme.org.uk.