View frequently asked questions on this topic at the bottom of this page.
Research is emerging to indicate that adults and children with coeliac disease are not at increased risk of covid-19 unless they have additional more complex conditions. Read more about this here.
Our Health Advisory Council, a group of expert healthcare professionals working in coeliac disease from across the UK, recommends that a diagnosis of coeliac disease does not increase the risk of side effects or complications after vaccination.
The NHS will contact you by letter, email or text when it is your turn for the vaccine. For more information on how you will be contacted, including tips on how to spot a scam, please visit the NHS website.
Covid-19 vaccination - adults with coeliac disease
The NHS website lists who can currently access covid-19 vaccines based on age and level of clinical vulnerability.
Around a third of adults with coeliac disease may have reduced spleen function and so adults with coeliac disease may fall into priority group 6. Coeliac disease is listed within the vaccination guidance as an example of a condition which may lead to splenic dysfunction. You can read more about spleen function in coeliac disease on our website.
Covid-19 vaccination - children with coeliac disease
For children and young people born in 2006 onwards, they should have had access to the childhood immunisation programme and be protected against secondary infections from common encapsulated bacteria (such as pneumococcus). The risk of hyposplenism in children with coeliac disease is considered to be rare.
Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Peter Gillett, a member of Coeliac UK’s Health Advisory Council, has answered some FAQs in this area. Dr Gillett also has results from his clinical practice demonstrating that children with coeliac disease had a good antibody response to childhood vaccinations, in particular pneumococcal vaccination, that was in line with that of the general population.
There is not an expectation for children with coeliac disease, in general, to be referred as a priority for covid-19 vaccination. Local health care teams who have access to an individual child’s medical records, may make a more informed decision on a case by case basis eg if they have other more complex conditions. This approach is in line with the feedback we received from Public Health England explaining the Government is likely to move towards a more individualised assessment of cumulative covid-19 risk taking into account other key risk variables.
Allergic reactions following covid-19 vaccination
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction and can be seen in response to foods, medicines and vaccines. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease and is not a food allergy.
Whether or not diagnosed with coeliac disease, people who have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of covid-19 vaccine, or a component of the covid-19 vaccine should not be given the vaccination. Anyone due to receive their vaccine should continue with their appointment and discuss any questions, serious allergies or any other medical conditions with the healthcare professional before having the vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can people with coeliac disease get vaccinated against covid-19?
Priority groups have been provisionally established for the roll out of covid-19 vaccines. Currently, adults aged 16-65 with reduced spleen function are listed under priority group 6.
Around a third of adults with coeliac disease may have reduced spleen function and so adults with coeliac disease may fall into this group. You can find out more about who falls into priority group 6 by clicking here. You can read more about spleen function in coeliac disease here.
Click here to view the full list of the Government's COVID-19 vaccination first phase priority groups.
I am diagnosed with coeliac disease, am I in priority group 6 for vaccination?
The priority groups for vaccination are currently based on age, occupation and health conditions.
If you are aged 65 or older, you will fall into priority group 1 – 5 based on your age, not your coeliac disease.
Currently, adults aged 16-65 with reduced spleen function are listed under priority group 6. The guidance is also clear that across the priority groups, clinical judgement should be applied.
If are you aged between 16–65 years and are diagnosed with coeliac disease, your healthcare team may consider you to fall into priority group 6, as up to a third of adults with coeliac disease may have spleen dysfunction. Coeliac disease is listed within the vaccination guidance as an example of a condition which may lead to reduced spleen function.
We contacted Public Health England last year to ask for clarification on the guidance and whether people with coeliac disease are considered clinically vulnerable. In their response, Public Health England stated that clinical judgement needs to be applied and individual circumstances considered when deciding whether someone with coeliac disease is considered clinically vulnerable. 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 been diagnosed and following a strict gluten free diet for several years and are otherwise healthy.
We understand that it can be frustrating to not have clear cut guidance which applies to everyone with coeliac disease and we are continuing our work in this area. We have written to NHS England to request further clarification within the Green Book. We are also in contact with researchers who are carrying out research in this area which we hope will provide evidence to better inform policies on vaccination for people with coeliac disease.
Who is classed as clinically vulnerable?
Two groups who are considered to be vulnerable have been identified:
- People who are clinically extremely vulnerable, who were advised to follow shielding advice at the start of the pandemic. People with coeliac disease who have no other health conditions do not fall into this category.
- People who are clinically vulnerable. This group is based around people who are offered the annual flu jab and includes everyone over 70 and people with certain medical conditions. Read on for more on this category and people with coeliac disease.
People with coeliac disease may have reduced spleen function and this is the reason why certain vaccinations (including the flu vaccination) may be offered to people with coeliac disease. As the clinically vulnerable group has been based on who is offered the flu vaccine, people with coeliac disease may fall into this category.
Having reduced spleen function is not the same as having your spleen removed (also called splenectomy). People who have had their spleen removed are considered clinically extremely vulnerable in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance from Wales. In England, the guidance on who is considered clinically extremely vulnerable says “people with problems with your spleen, e.g. splenectomy (having your spleen removed)” and so is less clear than in the other nations where splenectomy is the only spleen condition mentioned.
We have been in contact with Public Health England who last year agreed with the position of our Health Advisory Council, that people with coeliac disease should assess their level of risk on an individual basis with the support of their local healthcare team. People with coeliac disease could consider themselves to be clinically vulnerable due to the risk of reduced spleen function and follow the associated advice.
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.
The guidance on who is clinically vulnerable is also being used as part of the prioritisation for the covid-19 vaccine rollout. You can read more about this here.