Scotland has become the first country in the UK to include all people with learning disabilities in the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination programme.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday (February 22) that everyone with learning disabilities will be included in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) priority group six.
Previously, only people with a severe or profound learning disability were prioritised in group 6, and adults with Down’s syndrome are in group 4. But now, people with a ‘mild or moderate’ learning disability will also be prioritised.
Sturgeon said at the coronavirus briefing on Monday: “As of this week, we are also starting to vaccinate people with the first dose in priority group six. This includes people with certain underlying health conditions, which include but are not limited to heart disease, diabetes, or a severe or profound learning disability.
“I can though confirm today that with the agreement of the chief medical officer we also intend to include people with mild or moderate learning disabilities in group six, although we will we will have some work to do to make sure we are identifying and reaching everyone in that category.”
The news comes after charities including Mencap and celebrities including presenter Jo Whiley and author Ian Rankin have called for an earlier vaccination of people with learning disabilities.
Whiley’s sister, who has a learning disability and diabetes, is currently in hospital with COVID-19.
The BBC Radio 2 presenter said Frances had been offered the vaccine last week, but it was “too late” and she was now “fighting for her life”.
She has urged ministers to “forget the classifications” and protect all those with learning disabilities.