COVID-19 vaccines: Who is in the priority groups?
Updated: 29 April 2021
Many people with arthritis have been in touch with their GPs or rheumatology teams about the COVID-19 vaccination. We have put the below information together to explain which people with arthritis and related conditions are part of the government’s priority groups 4 and 6 for vaccination.
See the full list of the COVID-19 vaccination first phase priority groups 1-10, see the Gov UK website.
Who is included at this stage?
Group 4 – Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
Everyone who has been told to shield, or that they are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, is part of the government’s priority group 4 for vaccination. This includes people who have recently been instructed to shield recently through the use of the QCOVID risk assessment tool.
If you are in this group and haven’t yet been contacted to make an appointment to get your vaccine, you can follow the links below to find out what to do next.
- England - NHS: book or manage your coronavirus vaccination
- Northern Ireland - COVID-19 vaccine service
- Scotland - NHS Inform: the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
- Wales - Get your COVID-19 vaccination if you think you have been missed
Group 6 – People aged 16 to 64 who are considered to be at risk and adults who live with adults who are immunosuppressed
Some people with arthritis and other related conditions who have not been told to shield are still at an increased risk of COVID-19. Some of these people are in priority group 6 for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Priority group 6 includes:
People on medicines that suppress the immune system, including:
- anti-TNF biologics (such as infliximab, adalimumab, etanercept, golimumab, certolizumab pegol)
- other biologics (such as tocilizumab, abatacept, ustekinumab, secukinumab, rituximab, belimumab)
- JAK inhibitors (such as baricitinib, tofacitinib and upadacitinib)
- mycophenolate mofetil (MMF)
- doses higher than 20mg of prednisolone (steroid tablets) per day, for longer than one month.
You may be prescribed one of the medicines listed above under a different name, known as a brand name. If you usually know your treatment by its brand name, you may want to check if it’s known by one of the names above. Sometimes this information is on the packaging your medication came in.
In England and Wales, people aged over 16 who live with someone who is at an increased risk of COVID-19 due to their immune system being suppressed (for example, due to the medications or conditions listed above) are also able to receive their vaccine as part of group 6.
If you are eligible to have the COVID-19 vaccine because your condition or treatment suppresses your immune system, you should be contacted by your GP to arrange for any adults over 16 who live with you to have their vaccine too. Once they have booked their vaccine, they will need to take the letter you receive from your GP, as well as proof that they live with you, along to their vaccine appointment.
Who isn’t included at this stage?
Some people with arthritis will be included because they are clinically extremely vulnerable, because they have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, because they are on one of the immune suppression treatments listed here, or because of their age or other risk factors.
Other people with arthritis are not currently included, and will be offered the vaccine at the same time as other people their age.
The priority list is regularly being updated, and doesn’t currently include the following treatments:
What if I think I qualify for the vaccine, but haven’t been offered an appointment?
It could be that you are on the list for the vaccine, but that your invitation hasn’t been sent yet. In that case, you should expect to receive it soon.
If your GP does not prescribe your treatment, or you have been recently diagnosed, your medication or diagnosis might not be listed on your GP record. If this is the case, your GP might not be aware that you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6.
You could contact your GP if you think that your COVID-19 risk level may be wrong, or if you want to confirm they have the correct information about you and your treatment.