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Covid-19 Vaccine Update – Living with HIV

People living with HIV are now able to access appointments for a Covid-19 vaccine. If you haven’t already received an appointment, you should contact your HIV clinic for advice.

NHS Scotland has confirmed that most people living with HIV should now have received an appointment for their first Covid-19 vaccine – and is encouraging those who haven’t to come forward.

HIV is one of the underlying health conditions included in Priority Group 6 of the Covid-19 vaccine programme. Appointments for this group began being sent out on 22 February, based on information held on a central NHS register.

If you haven’t received an appointment, it is likely that this register does not include information about your HIV status. There are a number of reasons why this might be a case, including:

  • If you are not currently registered with a GP
  • If you are registered with a GP, but haven’t disclosed your HIV status
  • If your HIV status is only known to your HIV clinic (the information that your clinic holds about you is kept on a separate system, which is not shared with the central NHS register)

If you have not heard about an appointment, you can contact your HIV clinic for advice. Clinics are also currently contacting individuals affected, offering to add them to the central list so they receive an appointment.

If you are registered with a GP, have disclosed your HIV status and still have not received a vaccine appointment, you can call the National Covid-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 for assistance.

Is the vaccine safe for people with HIV?

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) publishes vaccine advice for people living with HIV.

It is recommended that people living with HIV should get a vaccination for Covid-19 when an appointment is offered, regardless of CD4 count. None of the currently available vaccines is live so they cannot cause Covid-19.

The patient information leaflets for the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 and Moderna vaccines all list immunodeficiency under the warnings and precautions for use, with Pfizer using HIV as an example, advising affected patients to tell their doctor/nurse/pharmacist before vaccination.

It is important to state that this is not based on concerns over safety. There is currently no evidence to suggest a higher risk of side effects in people with HIV. The guidance is mainly based on the fact that there is limited data for people with HIV, although the medical trials of all of the vaccines currently licensed for use in the UK included people who are HIV positive.

It is possible that people with HIV will produce a weaker response to the Covid-19 vaccines, but the vaccines are still expected to be protective, and are recommended

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