Eight out of Ten deaths of people with learning disabilities are due to COVID yet they are still not being prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

80% of people with learning disabilities who died through the week ending 22nd January 2021 were COVID-19 related deaths. This is dramatically higher than the general population where only 45% of deaths were COVID related.

Despite this disparity not everyone with a learning disability is being prioritized for the COVID vaccine. Currently those with a severe or profound learning disability and adults with Down’s syndrome are on the priority list, but people with a mild or moderate learning disability are not being automatically prioritized at all, even though data from the University of Bristol (2020) showed that 65% of those with a learning disability who died from COVID in the first wave in England had a mild or moderate disability.  

Many are also dying much younger – further data from Public Health England shows younger adults aged 18-34 with a learning disability are 30 times more likely to die of COVID than young adults in the general population.

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

    “We’ve seen the tragic consequences of not throwing a protective ring around people who rely on social care during the first lockdown. The Prime Minister must remember that it isn’t just people in care homes who need priority access – around half of the social care budget goes to working-aged disabled adults who mostly live in their own homes or supported living settings. People with a learning disability have died from COVID at over six times the rate of the general population, yet not all people with a learning disability who receive care are currently on the vaccine priority list. The Government must urgently give all people with a learning disability priority access to the vaccine – it will save lives.”

For further information about the inequality of people with learning disabilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic please visit Mencap's press release webpage here.