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BASW welcomes vaccine priority change for people with learning disabilities

The JCVI has issued revised guidance to the Government that all people on the learning disability register should now be prioritised for a COVID vaccination

Several months ago BASW called for all people with learning disabilities to be given vaccine priority, due to the significant risk of people with learning disabilities dying disproportionately at a younger age than the general population between March and July 2020. A report from Public Health England in November found that people with a learning disability were up to six times more likely to die from COVID-19.

Individuals with severe and profound learning disabilities were already on the priority vaccine list, but BASW added its voice to the call for this to be extended to all those with learning disabilities. We took the position that the Government needed to recognise a range of different needs – not just clinical ones.

Now, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued revised guidance to the Government that all people on the learning disability register should now be prioritised for a COVID vaccination. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock responded to this earlier today (Wednesday 24 February 2021).

This will mean an extra 150,000 will be eligible to receive the vaccination immediately. There are estimated to be around 1.2 million people with a learning disability but with just 250,000 on the GP register, it is important that individuals or their advocates talk to their GP to make sure that they are listed as being eligible to receive the vaccine in the current cohort.  

This follows on from the Scottish Government announcing earlier this week that Scotland would prioritise all people with learning disabilities in the current wave of vaccinations.