Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Prioritise vaccinations for people with a learning disability

The government should ensure that people with learning disabilities are high on the priority list for vaccination.

Shockingly, young people with learning disabilities aged 18-34 are thirty times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those without a learning disability,

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Government reports have shown that 451 per 100,000 people registered as having a learning disability died with COVID-19 between 21 March and 5 June.

The Guardian have reported that Covid deaths for people with a learning disability in England are 6.3 times the national average.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 February 2021

We are working hard to ensure everyone who has been clinically prioritised to receive a vaccine will have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.

Read the response in full

The NHS has been working alongside its health and social care partners to ensure the vaccine can be administered safely and effectively as part of the largest vaccination programme undertaken in its history.

An enormous amount of work has taken place to ensure we have the logistical expertise, transport and workforce to roll out a vaccine according to clinical priority, at the speed at which it can be manufactured. Over 8.9 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly half a million have received their second dose. There are now over 2700 sites across the UK already offering vaccines to those at risk by age and clinical priority. The network will continue to expand and evolve as we progress the deployment in the months ahead. We will expand the programme so all adults can be vaccinated by the autumn.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is the independent medical and scientific expert body which advises the UK Government on prioritisation for all vaccines. The committee’s membership is made up of practising clinicians and individuals from academia who have considered and continue to consider the impact of Covid-19 and population prioritisation as new data emerges.

For phase one of the vaccine roll-out, the underlying principles at the forefront of the advice by the JCVI are; to reduce mortality, to protect the health and social care systems, and to save lives. Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, all evidence indicates that the best option for preventing mortality in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect persons most at risk. Having identified age as being the biggest determining factor to increased mortality, vaccinations have been prioritised to care home residents and staff and those over 80, followed by health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

In line with JCVI recommendations, individuals with chronic neurological diseases, including those with severe and profound learning disabilities and Down’s Syndrome will be prioritised for a vaccine, as there is good evidence that these underlying health conditions increase the risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. Adults with Down’s Syndrome are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore will be eligible also be eligible for a vaccine in priority group four (alongside those 70 years of age and over). Adults with severe and profound learning disabilities are included in priority group six, alongside those with certain underlying health conditions increase the risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, as set out by the JCVI.

By 15 February we aim to have offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI):

• all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
• all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
• all those 75 years of age and over
• all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

Individuals eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination will receive an invitation to come forward when it is their turn. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.

Public Health England (PHE) has developed a range of COVID-19 resources for the public. These resources incorporate learning and evidence from behavioural science, attitudinal surveys and previous flu programmes. This includes resources for those with a learning disability (including invitation letters, posters, information leaflets and videos). These have been developed in collaboration with NHS England and Improvement and those with lived experience. PHE has published the first of three Easy Read guides: COVID-19 vaccination - a guide for people with a learning disability and their carers leaflet. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-easy-read-resources

The NHS has a tried and tested track record for delivering vaccination programmes and will work with existing partners across the healthcare system to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine can be deployed safely and effectively. The government is working hard to ensure everyone who has been clinically prioritised to receive a vaccine will have access to a vaccine as soon as possible.

Department of Health and Social Care

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