COVID-19 vaccination and IBD: Information for GPs

People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be at higher risk from COVID-19. They may be in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group (priority group 4 for COVID-19 vaccination) or Clinically Vulnerable group (priority group 6 for COVID-19 vaccination). 

The factors defining their risk level, which can fluctuate over time, are listed in the BSG risk grid. Patients can self-assess their risk using the Crohn’s & Colitis UK decision tree or the IBD Registry and British Society of Gastroenterologists (BSG) IBD Risk Tool.

The Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Section of the BSG and the IBD Clinical Research Group have recently issued a position statement on SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) vaccination, which includes key recommendations (below) and answers to FAQs – compiled in collaboration with Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

Priority for COVID-19 vaccination relies on correctly identifying both Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Clinically Vulnerable patients on their primary care record. Please continue to update your records regularly, based on communication from specialist IBD teams and on request from patients who have self-assessed their risk using the IBD Risk Tool. Please also ensure all medication is recorded, even if it is always prescribed in secondary care, as this is used to determine whether a patient is flagged as a priority for vaccination.

Key recommendations from the IBD Section of the BSG and the IBD Clinical Research Group

  1. We strongly support SARS-CoV2 vaccination for patients with IBD.
  2. The risks of SARS-CoV2 vaccination in IBD patients are anticipated to be very low.
  3. In IBD patients taking immunosuppressive drugs, including biologics and small molecule inhibitors, the key concerns are related to the theoretical risk of suboptimal vaccine responses rather than vaccine side effects.
  4. We recommend that IBD patients accept whichever approved SARS-CoV2 vaccination is offered to them, in accordance with UK Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance.
  5. It is important that patients with IBD are offered consistent and unbiased advice. This will be disseminated through the BSG and Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

For up-to-date patient-facing information on the COVID-19 vaccine and IBD please click here.

During the first wave, Crohn’s & Colitis UK found that 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s and Colitis did not receive the correct shielding information. For those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group who did not receive a shielding letter, this exposed them to unnecessary risk and was a barrier to accessing vital support. Conversely, those who were told to shield inappropriately are likely to have suffered from a financial and wellbeing perspective. Thank you for your ongoing support with this complex issue, which is extremely important to those living with Crohn’s and Colitis.


March 2021