Vaccine: 'Extra' EU supply should come to Ireland says Murphy

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Following reports that some GP practices have not been following Government guidance, some asthma sufferers have faced confusion about whether they are eligible for a coronavirus jab at present. An NHS England letter sent to GPs last month declared those who have “ever had an emergency asthma admission” to hospital are in priority group six for the vaccine.

But some are being told in order to be called up for vaccination, it is required that they have been admitted to hospital within the past 12 months.

GPs have said they assess various factors for vaccine prioritisation, including age, ethnicity and clinical judgement.

Leading UK charity Asthma UK has reported a number of asthma sufferers have been in touch with them to report a similar issue.

Thousands of calls have been made to its helpline asking for advice on the vaccine rollout.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: “We know that there are different interpretations of the official guidance from GP surgery staff and we’re not sure why exactly this is happening.

“We know that GPs are very busy and trying to vaccinate so many people quickly, and keep on top of very complex daily new information about COVID-19 and the vaccination programme.

“But it’s essential that GPs follow official guidance, so that people with asthma who need to be prioritised are protected now.”

Across the UK, more than 20 million people have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

When can I get a vaccine if I have asthma?

If you have more serious asthma, you are currently eligible to be vaccinated as part of priority group six.

Currently, the NHS is working through groups five and six: people aged over 65 and those aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group “which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality”.

Group six includes those with chronic respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.

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The JCVI states that those who require continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or have a history of previous asthma attacks requiring hospital admission, are in group six.

Those with more mild forms of asthma, or types that can be more easily controlled, are not included in the JCVI’s top nine priority groups.

The JCVI have bases prioritisation for a Covid-19 vaccine on the risk of mortality and serious disease, which is why some mild and moderate asthma sufferers are not considered to be serious enough to be in group six.

The Government is currently working toward every adult being offered a vaccine by the end of July 2021.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our priority is to save lives and protect the most vulnerable, and based on clinical risk the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that adults with severe asthma should be vaccinated in priority group six.

“This includes anyone who has ever had an emergency asthma admission to hospital and those who require regular steroids.

“Mild asthma, including that which can be treated by an inhaler alone, has not been found to carry a higher risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19.”

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The focus for GPs and our teams is currently to offer vaccinations to patients from group six… this is a large group of approximately seven million patients, and it is likely some patients in this group will not yet have been invited for their first jab.

“Prioritisation within this group will consider a number of factors, including age and ethnicity as well as some degree of clinical judgement.”

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