Coeliac disease and coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

We know there are lots of concerns and queries about coronavirus and coeliac disease and we have answered as many as we can below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to stay well?

The latest government advice is that we should all stay at home and only go outside when it is essential. This applies to everyone, whether or not you have coeliac disease. The NHS website and Government website are being updated on a regular basis and are the best place to go to for the latest information and guidance. Follow their advice to try and keep yourself safe.

As always, make sure you follow a strict gluten free diet, which is the treatment for coeliac disease.

I can’t find any gluten free products in my local supermarket, including essentials like gluten free pasta and flour. What can I do?

We know the current situation is really difficult and we’re talking to our contacts to see what we can do to help. We advise you to:

  • ask your store manager what time they receive their gluten free deliveries and go to the store then
  • try local convenience stores as we are hearing anecdotally that these are better stocked so try there
  • try mail order companies to see if you can get food delivered
  • try local suppliers who might be better stocked in their produce

If you're venturing out, please make sure you follow Government guidance to avoid risk.

If there is no gluten free food available at the supermarket, will it become available on prescription?

Gluten free staple foods are available on prescription in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Gluten free bread and flour mixes are available in some areas in England so check availability here. In areas of England where access to gluten free food on prescription has been restricted, it is unlikely that local policies will be reviewed at this present time.

What is Coeliac UK doing to help people manage their gluten free diet during the coronavirus outbreak?

We are working with our Health Advisory Council to make sure we’re giving you the best advice in line with Government guidance. We will keep updating you through our website and social media with the latest news that affects our community. We are talking to food manufacturers and retailers about the availability of gluten free food for people with coeliac disease. We also plan to make our gluten free recipes available to non members and create more recipes and tips for living on store cupboard meals etc. We’re doing what we can but if you can think of anything that would help you, please let us know.

I am having difficulty accessing an online delivery slot

If you live in England and you are vulnerable it is really important to register on the government website. This is the database that is being shared with supermarkets to allow them to prioritise delivery slots and other help for you.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or N. Ireland there is a different process. For more information please read here.

If you are not vulnerable and are able to leave your house providing you are in a position to, we would encourage you to shop in store so that online delivery slots can be given to those who need them most.

How can I find out if the guidance on coeliac disease and coronavirus changes?

Keep an eye on our website and the government updates too. We will do our best to keep you updated with this evolving situation.

Should people with coeliac disease be following guidance on shielding?

The government has provided advice on shielding for people defined as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. People with coeliac disease (including those who have problems with their spleen) who have no other health conditions do not fall into this category. If you fall into this category you should receive a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020. The Government website has more information on shielding.

I have received a food parcel but it contains gluten containing foods. What can I do?

Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will receive gluten free foods in your food parcel. As the scheme is being run differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the best thing for you to do is contact your local authority to inform them that you are unable to use gluten containing foods in your food parcel.

I have not been able to buy gluten free bread, pasta or flour. What can I do?

We understand how frustrating it is not to be able to buy the foods you rely on normally. We have contacted DEFRA to share examples you have shared with us about the issues you’re facing finding certain food and we will be sharing data from the survey with DEFRA to help support a change in policy. We have also contacted our food industry partners to find out if they are able to help you find gluten free food.

Please visit our page ‘Find gluten free food through our networks’ to find out more.

Has Coeliac UK sought clarity on the Government guidance for people with coeliac disease?

Yes, we know that the guidance has been a cause of confusion for our community and we have been in contact with various bodies including the Department of Health and Public Health England. The latest guidance lists people who are offered the flu jab on medical grounds within the clinically vulnerable group. People with coeliac disease are not specifically mentioned in the guidance but are recommended to have the flu vaccine on the basis that around 30% of people with coeliac disease may have hyposplenism.

The risk of hyposplenism to children with coeliac disease is very low and the risk for adults is likely to be low, particularly for individuals who have had the recommended pneumococcal vaccination, have been diagnosed and following a strict gluten free diet for several years and are otherwise healthy.

Public Health England has agreed that people with coeliac disease should assess their level of risk on an individual basis with the support of their local healthcare team.