Covid vaccine: What underlying health conditions qualify for the Covid vaccine?

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More than 23 million people in England have already received their first Covid vaccine as of Saturday, March 13. The Government is aiming to offer a first vaccine dose to everyone in priority groups by the end of April, before vaccinating the rest of the adult population by the end of July.

However, it is hoped the vaccine target could be brought forward with a rapid expansion of the vaccine programme expected soon.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs this week he was “expecting tens of millions of doses to come through”, leading to a “rapid increase” in the number of people being vaccinated.

The UK is expected to receive a number of vaccine doses from US company Moderna this month.

So far, three Covid vaccines have been approved in the UK including the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, which have already been rolled out.

Further vaccines are expected to be approved and rolled out over the coming months as well, adding to the UK’s vaccine total.

Which groups are being vaccinated now?

In England, the NHS is currently vaccinating most of the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The vaccine is being given to care home residents and staff, health and social care workers and people over the age of 55.

The vaccine is also being given to people considered clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable, as well as people with learning disabilities or people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus.

People who are in any of these priority groups are able to book their vaccination appointments online via the NHS website.

What underlying health conditions qualify for the Covid vaccine?

The NHS has compiled an extensive list of criteria which define whether someone is considered high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable), which you can access here.

People considered clinically extremely vulnerable are included in group four on the JCVI priority list.

Group six on the JCVI priority list include all individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality from coronavirus.

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The main risk groups selected by the JCVI include people with:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

The JCVI guidance added: “Other groups at higher risk, including those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside these groups.”

Homeless people have also been included in the JCVI priority group six, it was announced this week.

The JCVI said rough sleepers were likely to have underlying health conditions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week: “We know there are heightened risks for those who sleep rough and today I have accepted the advice of the independent experts at the JCVI to prioritise those experiencing rough-sleeping or homelessness for vaccination alongside priority group six.”

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