People with learning disabilities being ‘left behind’ in vaccination programme

Campaigners have warned of the ‘tragic consequences’ of denying priority access to the vaccine for people with a learning disability.

Charities and campaigners have warned that people with a learning disability have been “left behind” in the Government’s vaccine prioritisation scheme.

The call comes as the UK hits a crucial milestone in vaccinating all care home residents.

People with learning disabilities were found to be more than six times more likely to die from Covid-19 compared to the general population, according to NHS mortality data from last year. However, not all people with a learning disability who receive care are currently on the vaccine priority list.

Read our article on the heightened risk of mortality for people with a learning disability:
https://www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/People-with-learning-disabilities-up-to-30-times-more-likely-to-die-from-COVID-19

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said the Government must urgently give all people with a learning disability priority access to the vaccine to save lives.

“We’ve seen the tragic consequences of not throwing a protective ring around people who rely on social care during the first lockdown.

“The Prime Minister must remember that it isn’t just people in care homes who need priority access – around half of the social care budget goes to working-aged disabled adults who mostly live in their own homes or supported living settings.”

Kate Spicer, an author whose brother has a learning disability, also urged the government to rethink its prioritisation.

“Learning Disabled people deserve to take priority in the vaccine queue. Their death rates are shocking, especially among younger people,” she wrote in The Telegraph.

“My brother is more likely to die from Covid – yet is one of the vaccine forgotten.”

There are currently around 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap says people with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, which can lead to difficulties in adapting to new restrictions and guidance.

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