The underlying health conditions that allow people to get a vaccine sooner

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·4 min read

Watch: Clinically vulnerable and over 65s offered COVID jab as vaccine programme enters new phase

There are several underlying health conditions that will now allow people to jump to the front of the UK coronavirus vaccine queue.

More than 15 million people have now been vaccinated in the UK after the first four priority groups - people aged 70 and over, healthcare workers, social workers and the extremely clinically vulnerable - received their jab over the last few weeks.

Now the country's attention is turning to who is next in line as Boris Johnson prepares to ease lockdown rules.

Ministers said they will not lift restrictions before reviewing the latest data on the impact of the vaccine programme.

Read: First travellers fined £10,000 under new COVID travel quarantine rules

The next stage of the programme will see priority groups five and six getting their vaccines.

These include people aged 65 and over and those aged 16-64 who are at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions.

An estimated 7.3 million people fall into group six, making it by far the largest of the remaining priority groups.

People queue to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre inside the Brighton Centre, Sussex, as the UK continues in a third lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture date: Tuesday February 9, 2021.
People queue to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre inside the Brighton Centre. (PA)

However, there has been widespread confusion and questions over who exactly qualifies.

The list of conditions has been drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

But charities have called on the government to provide more clarity after many who expected to be on the list have been missed off, including people with ME, spinal cord injuries, forms of asthma, learning disabilities and rare physical disabilities.

Watch: Coronavirus vaccine in numbers: UK reaches 15.3m vaccinations

DJ Jo Whiley has weighed in on the issue, saying she is living "a nightmare" after being offered a COVID vaccine before her sister Frances, who has a learning disability, diabetes and the rare Cri du Chat genetic syndrome.

Frances, 53, recently tested positive for coronavirus after an outbreak in her care home.

Whiley told BBC Radio 4 she didn't know why she had been invited to get the jab, but said it was perhaps because she was considered a carer for her sister. Unpaid carers for the elderly and people with disabilities are in priority group six.

Whiley told the BBC she would give up her vaccine for her sister "in a heartbeat".

More confusion has been caused after the government added a further 1.7 million people to the shielding list – all of whom will get priority access for vaccines if they have not yet received their jab.

So far, care home residents, residential care workers, everyone aged 70 and over, healthcare workers, social care workers, and those considered "clinically extremely vulnerable" have all been vaccinated.

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Everyone in groups five and six are now starting to get their jabs.

By April 30, the government is aiming for everyone between the ages of 50 and 64 to have been vaccinated.

Then after April 30, every aged under 50 will start to be vaccinated. “Key workers” like teachers and police officers may be given priority but this has yet to be confirmed.

Which underlying medical conditions qualify for group six?

The main risk groups identified by the JCVI are set out below:

  • 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 government says that 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.

It also said the increased risk in those with underlying conditions is considered generally to be lower than the increased risk in persons over the age of 65.

Yahoo News has contacted Public Health England for any updates to the list of conditions for group six as well as a comment on the confusion over those considered missing.

Watch: Johnson pledges 'cautious and irreversible' approach to easing lockdown