Everyone is talking about the Covid vaccine, but what has the experience been like for people with disabilities?

And why are people with learning disabilities who are much more at risk of getting seriously ill or even dying with Covid not ALL classed as a priority group nationally? Some areas are doing the right thing and helping people get the vaccine but national guidelines haven’t changed - this leaves the majority of people with learning disabilities way down the list.

People with learning disabilities have been marginalised in health and social care for decades. Covid deaths for people with a severe learning disability in England are 6 times the national average. We need urgent action now to stop the postcode lottery and to ensure everyone with a learning disability receives a vaccine as soon as possible.

Lisa Hopkins, SeeAbility CEO

Emily, Gabby and Greg are part of the Influencing team at SeeAbility managed by Scott Watkin BEM. Here is their take on the situation.

Emily says:

Emily smiles at the camera sat in her garden

For my vaccination, the doctor came to where I live, which was great. I struggle with injections so I wasn't very keen. But it means there's less chance of me catching Covid and less risk for the people that support me. I have a visual impairment so the doctor said what he was going to do for the injection and when he was going to do it. He told me that the best way for the needle to go in my arm, and for me not to feel it, was for me to cough. And he told me that when I have the second vaccination it will be in the same arm. Luckily I didn't have any side effects although my arm ached for a couple of days. We still can't go out, but hopefully we'll be able to do more after the second vaccination.

Greg says:

Greg zooms around an athletics track in his wheelchair, with a huge smile on his face

I had my vaccine in late January and I feel very fortunate to have received this so early in the roll out process, due to the efficiency of my local surgery and my support staff working together. I want to reassure people it was straightforward, but I feel it is important that everyone is aware there can be side effects. Unfortunately I did have a very high temperature 24 hours later, cold shivers and felt a bit rough. But I hope by me writing this is helps you and your loved ones. I know that a lot of people both in the organisation and externally haven’t had the chance to have the vaccine if they want to, and I feel very strongly that the government have to make it equal for everyone.

Scott says:

Photo of Scott Watkin

I’m so pleased that my team have had the opportunity to have the vaccine. For me, I’ve been told that I will have to wait until September because I am in my 30s, although I have a learning disability and a sight problem. I feel really worried about waiting that long knowing about the additional risks to people with disabilities. I have to go to hospital soon for a really important appointment for my eye condition. I’ll be travelling by ferry and train, and if I had already had the vaccine I wouldn’t feel so worried.

Gabby says:

Gabby is in her bedroom, turning to smile at the camera

I think that it is appalling that disabled people have not been talked about in the Covid pandemic and they have been left at the bottom of the pile for the Covid vaccine. I would like to talk to the Government about how disappointed I am and go with my colleagues to Downing Street to protest when the pandemic is over, because I am not the only one.

What do you think?

Do you agree with the team that it's not fair that all people with learning disabilities aren’t higher up the list for the vaccine? You can add your name to this petition.

And read more in this report by Learning Disability England on the vaccine campaign.