The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to invite everyone on the GP learning disability register for Covid-19 vaccination.
The advice of the JCVI remains that adults with severe and profound learning disabilities, and those with learning disabilities in long-stay nursing and residential care settings, should be offered the vaccine in priority group 6 (people with Down’s syndrome are included in group 4). Adults with less severe learning disabilities are not currently prioritised.
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.
However, GP systems may not always capture the severity of someone’s disability, meaning some adults who are more severely affected by learning disabilities may not be invited for vaccination alongside people with other long-term health conditions.
The charity Mencap said everyone with a learning disability should check they are on the register and, if not, ask to go on it. People with a “severe or profound” learning disability in England and Wales were already in priority group six for the coronavirus vaccine, along with unpaid carers for those with disabilities and the elderly.
Check the Register
The charity Mencap said the announcement was “fantastic news for people with a learning disability”. “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,” said the charity’s Jackie O’Sullivan.
“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.”
Helen Whately, minister for care in England, said everyone who is on the GP’s learning disability register would be invited for vaccination to protect those at higher risk from the virus.
“I have heard first-hand how tough this pandemic has been for people with learning disabilities and their families,” she said.
“We are determined those more at risk from Covid should be vaccinated as soon as possible.”