England Joins Scotland To Protect People With Learning Difficulties
24th February 2021
JCVI has advised the government to invite all people on the GP Learning Disability Register for COVID-19 vaccination.
The advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) remains that adults with severe and profound learning disabilities, and those with learning disabilities in long-stay nursing and residential care settings, should be offered the vaccine in priority group 6 (people with Down's syndrome are included in group 4). Adults with less severe learning disabilities are not currently prioritised.
However, GP systems may not always capture the severity of someone’s disability, meaning some adults who are more severely affected by learning disabilities may not be invited for vaccination alongside people with other long-term health conditions.
JCVI asked the OpenSAFELY team to perform an updated analysis in those with various code sets for learning disabilities on GP systems and to include data from wave 2 of the pandemic.
The updated analysis confirmed a higher risk of mortality and morbidity in those on the GP register with learning disabilities - it’s expected that individuals with more severe learning disabilities are more likely to be on the list.
To ensure those most at risk of death or hospitalisation are prioritised for vaccination, JCVI supports the plan to invite anyone on the GP Learning Disability Register – as well as adults with other related conditions, including cerebral palsy – for vaccination as part of priority group 6.
JCVI also supports an approach for the NHS to work with local authorities to identify adults in residential and nursing care, and those who require support, for example as part of assisted living in the community, and those in shared accommodation with multiple occupancy.
This will mean at least 150,000 more people with learning disabilities will now be offered the vaccine more quickly.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for 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 6, and to reach out in the community to identify others also severely affected by a learning disability but who may not yet be registered.
JCVI will continue to consider the emerging evidence and will keep its advice under review.