Many people with arthritis will already have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, as the programme rolls out.
However, we know there are a number of young people who are missing out due to being placed in the wrong priority group. Many of you have commented on our Arthur’s Place Social Facebook Group about the difficulties you are facing.
There is confusing information about what you should do in these circumstances – so we spoke to the Cabinet Office and Public Health England to clarify exactly what action you can take.
What priority group should I be in?
If you’re on immunosuppressants for arthritis, you should be in Priority Group 6. That means your GP should have contacted you with a vaccine appointment.
Why might I be in the wrong priority group?
If your consultant prescribes your medication, the GP might not be aware of all the meds you are on and so you may have slipped through the net.
What should I do if I am taking immunosuppressants but I haven’t been contacted with an appointment?
In the first instance you should try to contact your GP and explain your situation to them.
But GPs say we shouldn’t call them about the vaccine!
That instruction doesn’t apply to people who have been placed in the wrong priority group. You should be able to speak to your GP – they may need to contact your hospital/consultant, or your rheumatologist’s secretary or rheumatology nurse may be able to help provide the information the GP needs.
What if I can’t get through to the GP or they are unable to help?
Your next step is to contact your Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG). CCGs cover local areas, and commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible. You can find out which CCG you are in by using the search function on this website here: https://odsportal.digital.nhs.uk/Geographic/Search
What if I still can’t get any help?
Hopefully by now you will have been able to get the assistance you need. However, if you have no luck with your GP or your CCG, or you need to make a complaint, you should contact NHS England (or NHS Scotland/Wales, depending on where you live!) All the contact details are here:
Questions about the vaccine itself? How safe is it? How does it affect your medication? Check out this article by expert rheumatologist Dr Martin Lee: https://arthursplace.co.uk/life/covid/2021/02/04/covid-19-vaccinations-what-you-need-to-know-if-you-have-arthritis/
Government update: UK regulator issues new advice on AstraZeneca vaccine
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has, today (7 April), published updated information for people and healthcare professionals on the possible risk of extremely rare and unlikely to occur specific types of blood clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Following a rigorous scientific review of all the available data, the MHRA said that the risk of these blood clots, based on reports up to and including 31 March, is slightly higher than the risk calculated from the reports published up to and including 24 March. However, likelihood of these blood clots occurring is still extremely rare.
The data suggest there is a slightly higher incidence reported in the younger adult age groups and the MHRA advises that this evolving evidence should be taken into account when considering the use of the vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 30 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19. The JCVI has also advised that it is preferable for adults aged under 30, without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine, if available.
The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.
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