People with a mild or moderate learning disability who live in Scotland will now be included in vaccination priority group six, according to a briefing from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
At a coronavirus briefing she said that they will have some work to do to make sure everyone in that category is reached and identified, but she can confirm that they intend to include people with mild or moderate learning disabilities in group six.
Priority group six is next in Scotland’s vaccination programme and includes people with chronic neurological disease as their underlying health condition, but previously this only included individuals with cerebral palsy, severe or profound learning disabilities, or Down’s Syndrome.
All people with a learning disability are highly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19
Learning disability charities have been campaigning for all people with a learning disability to be included in the priority list as there is clear evidence that all people with a learning disability are highly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19, not only those already included in vaccine priority groups.
The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory (SLDO) found that people with a learning disability were twice as likely as those in the general population to become infected with Covid-19. They were also twice as likely to experience a severe outcome of Covid-19 infection, resulting in hospitalisation and/or death.
Last month ENABLE Scotland’s Director of Campaigns and Membership, Jan Savage, called for all public health agencies in Scotland to ensure that people who have a learning disability got equitable and fair access to the vaccination programme in line with existing JCVI guidance.
She said: “The SLDO data confirms that significant health inequalities are present in Scotland for this population. We now need primary care staff to recognise this and to be supported to reach out to their patients who have a learning disability to come forward.
“We ask the Scottish Government to now take action to ensure that people who have a learning disability in Scotland have access to the support they need to be protected from harm as a result of Covid-19 through ensuring a seamless route for GPs to support people who have a learning disability to access the vaccination programme.”