EVERYBODY with a learning disability in Oxfordshire will now be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine, but campaigners are still fighting for the same approach to be taken nationally.

In England, people with Down’s Syndrome are placed in priority group four under official guidelines, while those with severe and profound learning disabilities are in priority group six.

However, many with a mild or moderate learning disability have not been prioritised nationally at all, despite concerns that they could be at greater risk from the virus – which  has already claimed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.

But the list is subject for change locally by the councils, clinical care groups or GPs.

Earlier this month Oxfordshire’s CCG tweaked the list so that everybody with a learning disability, despite the severity, is included group six.

Paul Scarrott, the co-chair of the user-led Oxfordshire charity My Life My Choice (MLMC) thanked the CCG in a letter, saying: “This decision not only reassures our members over Covid-19 but also tells them that the health inequalities that they experience is being treated seriously.”

But the group are still campaigning for something to be done about the problem nationally.

Ben McCay, who is co-chair of trustees at MLMC, has a mild learning disability which makes learning new skills and remembering things more difficult.

Oxford Mail:

The 44-year-old (pictured above) from Banbury, told PA news agency: “A lot of people with learning disabilities live independent lives and live on their own.

“So they have to actually go out and get their own food and medicine, so put themselves at even more risk.

“I think the MPs in Parliament think that we all have carers and family members coming an checking we’re OK and doing our food and medicine shopping. That’s just not the case.”

A study by Public Health England found that people with learning disabilities in England were up to six times more likely to die with coronavirus during the first wave of the outbreak.

In a December letter to deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Learning Disability England warned that the current categorisation of ‘at risk’ people risked missing out on conditions ‘particularly relevant for people with learning disabilities’.

One example given was dysphagia, a medical term for swallowing difficulties.

Dysphagia increases the risk of aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when food, saliva, liquids or vomit is breathed into the lungs or airways leading to the lungs – this can lead to bacterial infection, damage to the lungs and respiratory failure.

An NHS study conducted in 2017-18 found a larger proportion of patients with a learning disability were obese (37.5%) than those without one (29.9%).

Obesity is a known risk factor for severe symptoms from Covid-19.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.