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People with learning disabilities to be prioritised for vaccinations

24 February 2021

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations has confirmed that everyone with a learning disability will now be prioritised for vaccination under group 6.

Vaccination priority group six had only included people with ‘severe’ or ‘profound’ learning disabilities. The announcement on 24 February now means that everyone with learning disabilities is covered.

The advice states:

“To ensure those most at risk of death or hospitalisation are prioritised for vaccination, JCVI supports the plan to invite anyone on the GP Learning Disability Register – as well as adults with other related conditions, including cerebral palsy – for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

JCVI also supports an approach for the NHS to work with local authorities to identify adults in residential and nursing care, and those who require support, for example as part of assisted living in the community, and those in shared accommodation with multiple occupancy.

This will mean at least 150,000 more people with learning disabilities will now be offered the vaccine more quickly.”

Read the statement in full.

Jackie O'Sullivan, Executive Director of Communication, Advocacy & Activism at learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“This is a hugely welcome announcement, and fantastic news for people with a learning disability. Now everyone on the GP Learning Disability Register can get access to the COVID vaccine.

“It's now crucially important that everyone with a learning disability checks that they are on the register and asks to go on it if they are not. Being on the register has many benefits and entitles people to annual health checks and prioritisation for future vaccinations, as well as allowing them to get the COVID vaccine and be confident they are protected.”

Read the Mencap response in full.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “People with learning disabilities are six times more likely to die from coronavirus than people without learning disabilities. It is hugely welcome news that everyone with learning disabilities can now be urgently protected by vaccination. We are relieved and glad that the JCVI and government has listened to Disabled people’s groups about the importance of valuing the lives of people with learning disabilities, and has taken action to prioritise vaccinations.”

Mencap has easy read guides to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, including how to join your GP's learning disability register to make sure you are offered it in group 6 available from mencap.org.uk.