People with epilepsy should be priority for vaccine

Published: November 30 2020
Last updated: September 28 2022

People with epilepsy should be included in the clinical risk group of people who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine early, according to provisional guidance from the government’s Green Book. The Green Book has the latest information on vaccines for infectious diseases in the UK.

This guidance is subject to approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the vaccine supply.

According to the document, published on 27 November, the vaccine will be given to different groups in order of priority. Older care home residents and staff working in care homes, health and social care workers and people aged 70 plus, will be prioritised initially. People considered clinically extremely vulnerable will be next, followed by people aged 65 and over.

People aged 18-65 with chronic neurological diseases, including epilepsy, should be included in the next priority group.

As well as epilepsy, chronic neurological diseases include stroke, cerebral palsy, severe learning disability, Down’s syndrome, dementia and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

The Green Book also says the vaccine should be given for neurological conditions in which breathing and respiration may be affected. People with genetic diseases of the muscles or nervous system that get worse with age, or those with severe neurological disability, should also be in this priority group.

Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “We understand the concern that the risk to people with epilepsy from COVID-19 is higher than we previously thought. However, we are pleased that this risk has now been identified and that people with epilepsy will be prioritised for the vaccine, subject to MHRA approval. We want to reassure people that we will continue to monitor and update the situation. In the meantime, if anyone has any concerns please contact our helpline on 0808 800 5050.”

Full details of the provisional guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine are available on the website.