health

Call for people with asthma to receive Covid-19 booster vaccines


T

housands of people with asthma missed out on getting their Covid vaccine on time, a charity has warned, as it called for people with the condition to receive a booster jab this autumn.

Asthma UK said everyone with asthma who is eligible for a free annual flu vaccine should be on the list when booster coronavirus vaccines are rolled out, following months of confusion over the existing jabs.

Calculations by the charity, based on a survey of more than 1,200 people with asthma, suggest that around half of people with the condition failed to get their Covid vaccine on time.

Asthma UK estimated that 280,000 people deemed at increased risk of dying from Covid-19 due to asthma failed to receive their first Covid jab by the end of March when they should have been vaccinated, and more than 100,000 were still waiting two months later.

In February, the Government confirmed that people with asthma would be prioritised to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine if they had a shielding letter (priority group 4) or if they had ever been admitted to hospital for their asthma or ever taken three courses of oral steroid tablets during a three-month period (priority group 6).

But this led to widespread confusion, with some patients turned away by GP surgeries, and family doctors struggling to work out who was eligible based on their risk.

An estimated 13,300 patients were told their GP had no record of a hospital admission, while the steroid tablet criteria was deemed too complicated for a lot of GP computer systems to search for.

In some areas of the country, communication between different parts of the NHS computer systems meant that prescriptions for oral steroid tablets generated outside of GP practices were unlikely to appear on a patient’s GP record, the charity said.

Asthma UK is now urging the Government to use the free flu jab list, which includes approximately 3.4 million people with asthma, arguing this would also reduce the burden on GPs.



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