Millions with asthma must get priority Covid booster jabs to lower risk of death, charity says
MILLIONS of Brits suffering with asthma should be given priority booking when it comes to Covid booster jabs, a charity has warned.
Despite being eligible, almost half of Brits with asthma have not had their Covid jab at the right time – increasing their risk of death and serious illness.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday said that plans for Covid booster jabs could be approved in weeks and that a third jab would offer "even more protection" than the two doses currently being rolled out across the country.
So far in the UK over 42.9 million Brits have received a first dose of a coronavirus jab with over 31.3 million now also having had a second.
Charity Asthma UK has today said that asthmatics should be first in line when it comes to a third jab.
Research conducted by the charity found that 280,000 people with the condition in the UK, who had been deemed at risk of dying from Covid had failed to have had their first jab by March.
This it states, is due to the GP systems in place and the priority list set out by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).
The list created by the JCVI determined who got the jab first, with elderly and people with underlying health conditions being at the top of the list.
In February it was announced that people with severe asthma would be prioritised for a Covid jab.
Asthma UK found that over 100,000 asthma sufferers were still waiting for their jab in May, despite the fact they should have received a first dose by March at least.
The charity said that hundreds of thousands of people missed out on getting the jab early and that people with asthma have been left feeling "abandoned".
Evidence shows that some people with asthma are more at risk of dying from Covid-19 as it is a condition that attacks the lungs.
The charity said that other patients are also at risk of hospitalisation and Long Covid.
Asthma UK said there needs to be a simple and effective system to make sure that people with asthma who are eligible and most in need of a booster vaccine will get it.
Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said that it's "completely unacceptable" that many people with asthma have still not managed to have their jab.
She said: "Asthma leaves people struggling for breath, at risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks and causes over 75,000 hospitalisations every year. It is time the government took asthma seriously.
“With a Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout looking likely, the government must act. We think the best way to ensure that no one is left behind is to look at vaccinating everyone with asthma who needs it and is on the free flu jab list.
"We are urging the government to make this a priority and encouraging everyone with asthma to write to their MP to make this happen.”
In order to get all asthma sufferers the jabs they need, Asthma UK is urging the government to use the same list which is used for the free flu jab, which includes over three million asthma patients.
Around 113,800 people with asthma in the UK are deemed at risk of dying from Covid – and were still waiting for their jab last month.
In some areas of the country, the charity said that prescriptions for oral steroids generated outside of GP surgeries were not being recorded on a patient's record.
This means many GPs would not be informed if their patient had been admitted to hospital with the virus – resulting in many people not receiving their jab on time.
Dr Andy Whittamore, a practising GP and Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said the NHS has worked around the clock to give patients the help and care they need during the pandemic.
He explained: "The government has an opportunity to get the potential booster roll-out right and must listen to the experiences of patients and those on the frontline.
"What is clear is that the current system is not working for GPs or people with asthma. GP surgeries do not want to be faced with the same difficulties again later this year when valuable lessons can be learnt and acted on now."
Dr Whittamore added that keeping it simple would be key when it comes to rolling out a booster dose.
"There is the chance now for the government to learn the lessons from last time around and get a simple and effective system in place ready for any booster campaign so that no-one with asthma at higher risk from coronavirus misses out on getting the added protection they might need", he said.
It comes after it was revealed over the weekend that asthma inhalers could speed up recovery of Covid by three days for patients hospitalised with the virus.
The average stay for a patient admitted to hospital with coronavirus is eight days, with inhalers able to reduce this by three days.
In the UK there are 1,316 patients in hospital with the virus with 226 being admitted each day, government data states.
Ministers told MPs last week doctors have been prescribing inhalers to patients on a "case-by-case" basis, The Telegraph reported.
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