Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“It’s encouraging that the Government has reached the milestone of vaccinating the top 4 priority groups - but too many people with a learning disability are still waiting, despite being at a high risk of dying from the virus.
“People with a learning disability are six times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the rest of the population yet those with a mild or moderate learning disability aren’t prioritised at all. We urge the Government to include everyone with a learning disability in group 6 urgently – it is not too late.
“It’s unacceptable that within a group of people hit so hard by the pandemic, and who even before COVID died on average over 20 years younger than the general population, many are left feeling scared and wondering why they have been left out. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Government must act now to help save the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable people by urgently prioritising all people with a learning disability for the vaccine.”
For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).
Notes to editors:
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 email@example.com.
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.