Coeliac disease and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked to find answers for our community about health risks for people with coeliac disease based on the available evidence and expert opinion. We created resources to help our gluten free community continue to live well gluten free and developed new digital support tools for those recently diagnosed.

Research

Research on coeliac disease and COVID-19 is continuing 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.

You can watch the video here

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.

Recently diagnosed?

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. Because of knock on effects of the coronavirus pandemic, this appointment might be delayed, so we have developed support to bridge the gap and get you started.

Nicola one of our dietitians shares her expertise

Vaccinations

Our Health Advisory Council, recommends that a diagnosis of coeliac disease does not increase the risk of side effects or complications after vaccination.

Everyone aged 5 years and over can get a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People age 16 and over can also get a booster dose.

Autumn Booster

In the coming months, an Autumn COVID-19 booster vaccine will be offered to some people. On 15 July it was confirmed that the booster will be offered to:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults
  • Staff working in care homes for older adults and frontline health and social care workers
  • All adults 50 years of age and over
  • People aged 5 to 49 in a clinical risk group – read on for more information about what this means for people with coeliac disease
  • People aged 5 to 49 who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • People aged 16 to 49 years who are carers

Are adults with coeliac disease in a “clinical risk group”?

Adults and young people aged 16 and over with reduced spleen function are considered to be in a clinical risk group and therefore should be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine.

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.

Are children with coeliac disease in a “clinical risk group”?

Children with coeliac disease aged 5 to 15 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. Local healthcare teams with access to an individual child’s medical records, may make a decision about offering vaccination on a case by case basis. 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.