We need your help

People with a learning disability are one of the most vulnerable groups to coronavirus (COVID-19), but are highly likely to miss out on the coronavirus vaccine due to issues that will arise with identification of those in Groups 4 and 6, and barriers to accessing healthcare.

Without intervention, many people with a learning disability will not be able to access the vaccine that they so desperately need. 

The information on this page explains this further and what primary care staff can do to help.

The problem

People with a learning disability are more likely to be at clinical risk from coronavirus, or live in group settings where contracting the virus is more of a risk.

But they are also more likely to miss out on the healthcare they need should they become unwell.

It is vital that people with a learning disability are able to access the coronavirus vaccine.

Most people with a learning disability are already on the priority list, including:

  • adults with Down’s syndrome
  • people with severe and profound learning disabilities
  • people with health conditions and characteristics present in Group 6 (which disproportionately affect people with a learning disability).

But leading experts are concerned about how healthcare professionals will target those that need the vaccine most, due to:

  • issues with clinical coding 
  • the complex nature of many syndromes which affect people with a learning disability.

What can healthcare professionals do?

The simplest and most effective way to ensure that the people who need the vaccine most get it urgently, is to prioritise all those on your practice Learning Disability Register
 
If you have influence in the implementation of vaccine roll out in your area or practice, please encourage decision makers to prioritise people with a learning disability.

This is encouraged by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) who state that there should be ‘flexible models of delivery, aimed at ensuring everything possible is done to promote good uptake in… groups who may experience inequalities in access to, or engagement with, healthcare services’.

Make sure people with a learning disability are able to access the vaccine, once prioritised, including making reasonable adjustments and supporting with decision making.

Find out more in our guide about how to ensure people with a learning disability can access the vaccine in your area or practice (PDF). This includes top tips for finding your patients with a learning disability, accessible communication and supporting people with decision making.

Webinar from the PCPLD network

Watch this webinar from the Palliative Care for People with Learning Disabilities (PCPLD) network on why all people with a learning disability and their carers should be prioritised for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Talk to us

We know this is a difficult and unusual time. We're here to help.

If you need information or advice you can contact our helpline or if you can, have a chat on our online community

Contact the helpline Go to the online community

You might also like

Coronavirus: Resources for healthcare professionals

Information for healthcare professionals, to help treat patients with a learning disability during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Read more about Coronavirus: Resources for healthcare professionals

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Take a look at our information and resources on the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Read more about Coronavirus (COVID-19)