Jackie O'Sullivan, Executive Director of Communication, Advocacy & Activism at learning disability charity Mencap, said:

How appalling that people who already have the odds stacked against them, are left out of the life saving vaccinations prioritisation list. Those with a severe or profound learning disability are in group 6 but people with a more mild or moderate learning disability are not being prioritised at all - yet we’ve seen no evidence that they are at any less risk of dying from COVID. Prioritising the vaccine for all people with a learning disability would mean that doctors can roll it out without having to make time consuming distinctions between the types and severity of disability. 

It’s already disappointing that people with a learning disability aren’t being more highly prioritised and, yet again, there’s not even been a move to prioritise everyone. It would create a smoother vaccine rollout and help protect a group who are up to six times more likely to die from COVID – the Government has missed a critical opportunity.”

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).  

Notes to editors:   

About Mencap     

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want: www.mencap.org.uk.    

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.         

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.