Coeliac disease and coronavirus (COVID-19)
We continue to work to find answers for our community about health risks for people with coeliac disease based on the available evidence and expert opinion.
Research on coeliac disease and COVID-19 continues to emerge, but reassuringly, the research to date has found that there does not appear to be an increased risk of catching COVID-19 for people with coeliac disease. In addition, research from Sweden has found that there does not appear to be an increased risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 or having severe COVID-19 in people with coeliac disease. Prof Jonas Ludvigsson, one of the authors of this research presented his research at our virtual 2021 research conference.
A study from America looked at the number of COVID-19 related hospitalisations in patients with coeliac disease, before and after COVID-19 vaccination. In this study people with coeliac disease were at higher risk of hospitalisation compared with people without the condition but reassuringly, the researchers found the risk of hospitalisation was decreased in patients with coeliac disease who had been vaccinated, demonstrating the benefit of the COVID-19 vaccines.
There is still a lot more to learn about COVID-19 and the impact on people with other medical conditions including coeliac disease. The research published so far has not investigated the long term effects of COVID-19 such as “long covid” specifically in people with coeliac disease, where people have symptoms lasting weeks or months after the infection has gone.
Our Health Advisory Council (HAC), a group of key health experts working in coeliac disease, continue to advise us as the situation and research develops. We will continue to keep our information updated as things change.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you should be referred to a dietitian to help you get started on a gluten free diet. If there is a significant wait time for your appointment you may get a head start by listening to Nicola, one of our dietitians, who shares her expertise.
Our Health Advisory Council, recommends that a diagnosis of coeliac disease does not increase the risk of side effects or complications after vaccination.
Researchers in Norway found the body’s immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine in people with coeliac disease to be similar to healthy controls, therefore people with coeliac disease can expect the same level of protection as the rest of the population.
Autumn Booster 2023
People who are considered to be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 will be offered an additional vaccine as part of the Autumn Booster Campaign from September 2023.
People with coeliac disease are not expected to be offered a booster as part of the Autumn Booster Campaign, unless they meet other requirements as further described. The Autumn Booster dose will be offered to
- All adults 65 years of age and over
- Residents in a care home for older adults
- People aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group– read on for more information about what this means for people with coeliac disease
- People aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- Frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults
Are adults with coeliac disease in a clinical risk group?
For adults, coeliac disease is listed as an example condition where reduced spleen function can occur so adults with coeliac disease may be invited for a booster vaccine.
Spleen function is not routinely assessed in people with coeliac disease but the risk seems to be lower for individuals who have been diagnosed and following a strict gluten free diet for several years and are otherwise healthy. This may be taken into account by your healthcare team when deciding whether you should be offered a COVID-19 booster.
The booster recommendations are based on national guidance for the Autumn Booster dose. However, local healthcare teams have access to your individual medical records and may make a decision to offer the vaccine on a case by case basis. If you are concerned, speak with your local healthcare team who are best placed to provide individual advice.
Are children with coeliac disease in a clinical risk group?
Children with coeliac disease aged under 16 years are not expected to be routinely offered a COVID-19 booster during the Autumn booster campaign. This is because coeliac disease is not listed as an example condition associated with reduced spleen function for children. If you have a child with coeliac disease and are concerned, speak with your local healthcare team. They are best placed to provide individual advice.
Still have questions? Read some FAQs answered by one of our Health Advisory Council experts: Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Dr Peter Gillett.