Adults on the learning disability register prioritised for Covid vaccine in England, Wales and Scotland

Wednesday 24 February 2021

The government’s expert vaccine committee has advised that all people on the learning disability register be prioritised for a Covid vaccine in England.

This means 150,000 more people at higher risk being offered a jab more quickly in England. It follows DJ Jo Whiley’s calls for people such as her sister, Frances, to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. Frances has a rare genetic syndrome and lives in residential care, where she contracted Covid.

And it comes after announcements this week that Wales and Scotland have prioritised people with mild to moderate learning disability.

People with a severe or profound learning disability were already in priority group six for the coronavirus vaccine across all four nations, along with unpaid carers.

Getting your son or daughter on the learning disability register

Anyone with a learning disability can be added to the register even if they do not have a formal diagnosis.  If it is unclear whether your autistic son or daughter has a learning disability, the GP can assess them using this simple Learning Disability Register Inclusion Tool.

Contact is supporting calls for accessible vaccine clinics for people with learning disabilities, led by learning disability nurses. 

Meanwhile  NHS England has issued guidance to clinicians on making reasonable adjustments when giving COVID vaccination to people with learning disabilities and/or autism. 

Disproportionately affected by Covid

There have been growing calls for all learning-disabled people to be vaccinated urgently because they have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic.  A recent Public Health England analysis found COVID deaths were 3-6 times higher among people with learning disabilities compared to people generally with higher death rates among younger learning-disabled adult. 

Some English clinical commissioning groups, including Norfolk, have already decided to off COVID vaccine to all people with learning disabilities in their area, regardless of severity. 

The BMJ also reported some groups of GPs in Kent and Medway and Oxfordshire were offering the COVID vaccine to all their learning-disabled adult patients.

Your vaccine questions answered

Read more about COVID vaccine on our regularly updated COVID vaccination: Your Questions Answered page.

More about annual health checks and GP learning disability registers

Our Annual Health Check factsheet has information on GP learning disability registers and annual health checks, why they are important and how you can support your child or young person to access the services they are entitled to.

Take a look at answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about annual health checks for young people aged 14 and over with a learning disability.