All adults on the learning disabilities register should now be prioritised for a Covid vaccine, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government and the NHS.
The JCVI has said the Government and NHS should now invite more people with learning difficulties to receive a coronavirus vaccination.
People on the Learning Disability Register will be included in priority group six
Those with severe learning disabilities are already included in priority group six, but adults with less severe conditions have not been included in the same group.
However, the JCVI has said the health service should now invite all adults on the GP Learning Disability Register, after research found they were at higher risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19.
Public Health England (PHE) has now confirmed that all adults on the GP learning disability register will be invited for a Covid vaccination as part of priority group six, regardless of the severity of their disability.
PHE said this move will now allow at least 150,000 more people with learning disabilities to be offered the vaccine more quickly.
Helen Whately, the care minister, said: “Following the JCVI’s updated advice and to make this process simpler and faster, we will be inviting everyone for vaccination who is on their GP’s learning disability register. This will mean those who are at a higher risk from the virus can get the protection they need.”
This decision has been welcomed by DJ Jo Whiley, who made pleas for people such as her sister, Frances, to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Whiley’s sister - who is recovering after being admitted to hospital with Covid earlier this week - has a rare genetic syndrome and lives in residential care, but the DJ was invited for a vaccine before her.
Whiley told the BBC: “This is a great day, I am so relieved. I'm so happy for all those people who have been living in fear.”
‘People who are severely affected by learning disabilities are at higher risk of death from Covid-19’
The NHS is also being asked to work with local authorities in order to identify other adults in the community severely affected by a learning disability that may not be on the register, but should be offered a vaccine.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chairman for the JCVI, said: “The JCVI’s advice on Covid-19 vaccine prioritisation was developed with the aim of preventing as many deaths as possible. People who are severely affected by learning disabilities are at higher risk of death from Covid-19.
“As the severity of any disability may not be well recorded in GP systems, JCVI supports the NHS operational plan for anyone on the GP Learning Disability Register to be invited now for vaccination as part of priority group six, and to reach out in the community to identify others also severely affected by a learning disability but who may not yet be registered.”