The government has confirmed that millions of people with controlled asthma ‘must wait wait for the vaccine’.
People with asthma will not be prioritised for the Covid vaccine unless they are ‘formally shielding, regularly take steroid tablets or have ever had an emergency hospital admission’.
The recent announcement has allayed any doubts that stemmed from previous guidance indicating steroid-inhaler users would be eligible. It has since been determined this group is not at increased risk of death, the BBC said.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was following independent advice that the immediate priority should be to “prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality”.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “This prioritisation captures almost all preventable deaths from Covid-19.”
People with non-severe asthma are considered by the NHS to be at increased risk from Covid – but not at risk of dying from the virus.
Asthma has also been linked to an increased risk of ‘long Covid’ – which brings upon various symptoms suffered by some people weeks or months after the initial infection has cleared.
Anyone with the condition requiring a steroid inhaler or tablets will be offered a free annual flu jab. And that’s led some people to question why they are being treated differently when it comes to Covid where only oral (tablet or liquid) steroids are considered.
To validate the decision, Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP, for most people with well-controlled asthma, data suggests there is no increased risk of death from coronavirus.
And the main purpose of the early phases of the vaccination programme is to reduce Covid-19 deaths.
He wrote in an online blog: “Because of this, not everyone with asthma will be in the first nine priority groups. Your risk might be increased by other factors, such as age.
“There will be some people with asthma who will be included in priority group six. These are people who have had three prescriptions for oral steroids over a three-month period, or people who have ever had an emergency admission with their asthma.”
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