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Asthma campaigners worried some won’t be eligible for the Welsh Covid booster jab

15 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Picture by NIAID (CC BY 2.0).

Asthma campaigners are worried that some sufferers have been left off the list of those eligible for the Covid booster jab in Wales.

Responding to the announcement yesterday that the Welsh Government would introduce booster jabs, Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation in Wales, said the lack of clarity was “extremely disappointing and worrying”.

The Welsh Government will follow the UK vaccine watchdog’s advice on who to vaccinate – including everyone over 50, staff working in care homes for older adults and health care workers.

However, Joseph Carter said that the announcement had caused “huge confusion yet again to millions of people with asthma”.

“While the interim guidance reassured us that everyone on the flu jab list would be entitled to get a booster jab, today’s announcement suggests this is no longer the case,” he said.

He called instead for the Covid booster to be given to everyone on the flu jab list, which included those with Asthma.

“The Welsh government has used the phrase ‘underlying conditions’ to talk about who will be eligible for the booster jab, but our understanding based on the information announced today is that this doesn’t necessarily include everyone with asthma who is on the free flu jab list,” he said.

“It is extremely disappointing and worrying.

“We have been campaigning on behalf of people with asthma, repeatedly explaining to the JCVI and both UK and Welsh governments that it is currently impossible for GPs to identify everyone with asthma who is at a high risk of being seriously ill with the Covid-19 and setting out that the only way to ensure people don’t slip through the net is to give the booster to everyone on the free flu jab list. This includes people with asthma prescribed a preventer inhaler.

“While most people with asthma will have had two Covid jabs and may have good protection from Covid-19 for some months, we want to ensure that at the point people’s immunity wains that they are protected by a booster vaccine.

“We are calling for the government to publish all the evidence behind the decision and urge them to review the booster list to include people with asthma under 50 when they need it.”

‘Safe’

There are over 300,000 people with Asthma in Wales, with conditions varying from mild, moderate, and severe. Those whose condition is the most severe are already on the priority list.

Campaigners had however previously requested that all sufferers be added to the first nine priority groups, arguing that they are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19.

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation Wales said that many people with mild to moderate, well-controlled asthma should be in category 6. Their exclusion, they said, is due to a decision to base prioritisation on the great risk of mortality, rather than the risk of hospitalisation and complications.

“People with asthma are not at greater risk of mortality from the Coronavirus, but the risk of hospitalisation and complications arising from their condition still places them at increased risk compared to those without asthma,” Joseph Carter said earlier this year.

“It is only right that the Welsh Government prioritise all those with asthma in the next rollout of the vaccine. This will ensure that everyone with the condition gets their vaccine soon, alleviating concern and helping keep vulnerable people safe. We hope these calls will be listened to and adopted.”

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