150,000 more people with learning disabilities prioritised for COVID-19 vaccine

Around 150,000 more people will be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) backed jabs for all people on GP learning disability registers.

COVID-19 vaccine site (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccine site (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Everyone on GP practice learning disability registers - around 300,000 people in England - will now be added to JCVI cohort 6 - the group GP-led vaccination sites are currently focusing on.

Cohort 6 covers patients aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions - including patients with 'a severe and profound learning disability' or severe mental illness.

Around half of patients on GP learning disability registers fall outside the original definition of cohort 6 - but these patients will now also be offered vaccination as part of this group.

COVID-19 vaccination

A statement from Public Health England (PHE) confirmed: '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.'

The JCVI remains of the view that those at greatest risk are patients with severe and profound learning difficulties - but backed the expansion of cohort six after analysis 'confirmed a higher risk of mortality and morbidity in those on the GP register with learning disabilities'.

PHE said GP registers 'may not always capture the severity of someone’s disability' meaning that under the original cohort 6 definition 'some adults who are more severely affected by learning disabilities may not be invited for vaccination alongside people with other long-term health conditions'.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has written to the JCVI welcoming its support for the expansion.

JCVI priority groups

He noted the JCVI view that those with severe learning disability remained most at risk, adding: 'It is very helpful, however, to have your support for a practical operational approach, proposing to invite everyone on the GP learning disability register.

'I am grateful for the further considerations of the JCVI. In line with your letter, I have asked the NHS to ensure that everyone on the learning disability register is invited for vaccination as part of cohort 6.'

GPonline reported on 23 February that practices could be offered additional funding to support vaccination in hard-to-reach patient groups, potentially including some of those in cohort 6.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard at Downing Street press conference

GPs offered £15 per jab as government sets 31 January COVID-19 booster deadline

COVID-19 vaccine payments to GP practices will rise nearly a fifth to £15 per jab...

Houses of parliament

Evidence for mandatory NHS staff COVID-19 jabs 'not good enough', says Lords committee

Evidence to support government plans to require all NHS staff in patient-facing roles...

Dr Farah Jameel

Practices 'need substantial support' to step up Omicron response, warns BMA GP chair

General practice is already facing unsustainable pressure and will need 'substantial...

JCVI COVID-19 immunisation chair Professor Wei Shen Lim

JCVI backs immediate expansion of COVID-19 vaccination to combat Omicron variant

The COVID-19 booster campaign should expand immediately to people aged 18-39 and...

Close up of hand holding sample tube with 'Omicron' handwritten on side

Government urged to 'free up' GP practices and expand steps to control Omicron

GPs have called for immediate action such as suspension of QOF to allow practices...

(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...