People at very high risk of contracting coronavirus due to health problems, who needed to protect during the pandemic, have been given the same priority as people over 70 to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
According to the preliminary vaccine priority list published by Public Health England, people 18 or older who are considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” belong to the same priority group as those 70 and older.
It means that people with conditions such as blood, bone or lung cancer, chronic kidney disease, and Down’s syndrome have been placed in priority group four of nine.
The updated list, which is subject to approval of vaccine supply by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), also lists the conditions that fall in priority group six for high-risk adults 18 to 65 years of age.
These include people diagnosed with diabetes, chronic heart disease and morbid obesity.
The interim guidance, advised by the Joint Vaccination and Vaccination Committee (JCVI), says the order of priority should be: elderly in care homes and care home workers; those 80 and older and health and social workers; those 75 years and older; those 70 and older and clinically extremely vulnerable, with the exception of pregnant women and women under 18 years of age.
All over-65s, adults aged 18 to 65 in a risk group, over-60s, over-55s, and over-50s make up the rest of the list.
Gemma Peters, CEO of Blood Cancer UK charity, said: “This is extremely good news. Placing people with blood cancer on the same priority level as people over 70 better reflects the fact that they are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. “
Peters added, “Any vaccine may not work very well in people with blood cancer, so vaccinating those around them is an essential part of their protection. We are very grateful to the government for listening to the voices of people with blood cancer and other health problems.
“It is also important to remember that this is not absolutely the definitive priority list. No vaccines have yet been approved, and we await confirmation that any vaccine will be safe and effective for people with blood cancer. “
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was the first to submit its data for review by the MHRA last week.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said there will be 10 million doses available in the UK by the end of the year out of the 40 million he has ordered.
Meanwhile, hospitals have been told to prepare for a coronavirus shot rollout in just 10 days, with NHS employees expected to be front line, the Guardian has learned. Problems with transporting and storing the vaccine, which must be kept at low temperatures, means that it cannot be easily transported by medical personnel, such as general practitioners, to care homes and private homes of the elderly to give them the vaccine first.