In an exclusive letter to CHP, Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, calls for the prioritisation of all people with a learning disability in the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
Last week, the COVID-19 vaccine began to be rolled out to JCVI cohort six for vaccination. The JCVI determined that those with severe and profound learning disabilities are in cohort six.
However, the rollout to cohort six not only creates an arbitrary distinction between prioritising those with a severe or profound learning disability and those with a mild or moderate learning disability, but many people who come into cohort six criterion might not be easily identifiable through either the GP Learning Disability Registers and SNOMED codes (which describe the impact of learning disability although there is variation in how these are applied), which are used to help identify this group. This creates a sense of a lottery in terms of who can or can’t be vaccinated.
As the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, Care England has previously called upon Government for this arbitrary distinction between prioritising those with a severe or profound learning disability and those with a mild or moderate learning disability to be removed and instead prioritise all those with a learning disability for vaccination.
The Public Health England (PHE) report ‘COVID 19 deaths of people identified as having learning disabilities’, published in November 2020, which outlined how deaths from COVID-19 amongst those with learning disabilities was up to six times higher than the rate experienced by the general population in the first wave of the pandemic, found no evidence to suggest that those with a less severe learning disability were less likely to die from COVID-19. Therefore, we are concerned as to why such a distinction has been drawn.
Care England demands a clear message of inclusivity and permissibility for vaccination if we are to protect some of society’s most vulnerable.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England