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Guardian article on Covid priority groups

February 15, 2021

“Sonya Chowdhury, the chief executive of Action for ME, said she was shocked that the condition (M.E./CFS) had been left out of category 6… Even mild viruses can cause flare-ups and relapses in people with ME, confining them to their bed for months or even years.”

An article by Frances Ryan in the Guardian has highlighted the difficulties faced by people with illnesses like M.E. in receiving prioritisation for the Covid vaccine, despite M.E. appearing to fit the JCVI criteria for group 6 as a chronic, neurological condition.

Last week, in response to a letter from Dr Charles Shepherd on behalf of M.E. charities, the JCVI said that they are not currently willing to state that M.E./CFS should be specified in Group 6 as an underlying health condition and neurological disease, but that doctors can and should apply their clinical judgement when assessing individuals.

With M.E. not specified in the JCVI priority list, Action for M.E. has produced a template letter for people with M.E. to take to their GP, explaining why they should be included in group 6. We’ve already had a number of people report positive response from their GP after using this template. However, as Frances Ryan writes in her article, many GPs appear to be unaware that they can use their clinical judgement to add people to priority lists, with multiple people getting in touch to tell us that their GP has told them that they have no say in who is or isn’t prioritised. We updated our template letter last week to include the JCVI’s confirmation that GPs can and should use their clinical judgement on vaccine prioritisation.

In addition to the above, a petition has now been started, urging the JCVI to specify M.E./CFS under the list of chronic neurological conditions in group 6. You can add your name to this petition by visiting Change.org.

Thank you to Frances Ryan and the Guardian for highlighting this issue with vaccine prioritisation and for speaking to Sonya. You can read the full article by Frances on the Guardian website.