Care England is calling for all people with a learning disability to be placed in a higher priority group for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The organisation said it is supportive of the speed and manner in which COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out to Priority Group 1, but it “remains concerned” that individuals with a learning disability have not been given a higher priority.
Currently, people with learning disabilities fit in different cohorts of priority, depending on how their learning disability has been classified according to the priorities set out by the JCVI and Green Book on vaccines.
Based upon the current cohorts outlined in the Green Book, individuals with severe and profound learning disabilities are placed under Priority Group 6, whilst only individuals with Down’s Syndrome are listed as clinically extremely vulnerable and thus placed under Priority Group 4.
Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green (pictured) said: “We hold that the government should remove the arbitrary distinction between prioritising those with a severe or profound learning disability and those with a mild or moderate learning disability, and place all those with a learning disability in Priority Group 4. These vaccinations must be administered in the individual’s place of residence, as opposed to in vaccination hubs.”
A Public Health England (PHE) report published in November 2020 outlined how deaths from Covid-19 amongst those with learning disabilities was up to six times higher than the rate experienced by the general population in the first wave of the pandemic.
Care England called for lessons to be learned from the first wave of the pandemic by prioritising individuals with a learning disability for the Covid-19 vaccine and other public health measures will help safeguard some of society’s most vulnerable.
Green continued: “Unfortunately people with learning disabilities have been disproportionately affected by this dreadful virus and we want to do all that we can to protect care home residents and staff. We have seen that an incredible scale of mobilisation is possible for the vaccination and we want to harness this to protect the 1.5 million people with a learning disability”.