In response to today’s announcement that all people with learning disabilities will now be invited for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) has issued the following statement:
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, said:
“While today’s announcement is to be welcomed and will ensure those people with a learning disability on a GP register will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine, it has taken far too long for the government to reach this point and there is still work to be done to ensure all disabled people are offered a vaccine.
“As soon as the news of the COVID-19 vaccination programme was launched, VODG and others called on the government and its agencies to ensure disabled people were not left behind in the rollout of the programme and wrote to The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advocating for people with learning disabilities to be re-prioritised.
“Since then, VODG, alongside the collective voice of families, voluntary sector providers, and many others have had to champion the rights of people with learning disabilities and push for policymakers to acknowledge the available data on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on people with learning disabilities and disabled people.
“Today’s announcement will be of great relief to many families, but we must also hope that this has been a lesson in listening for the government and it will finally commit to an inclusive and equitable approach in its COVID-19 policy responses for everyone with a disability, especially given that we know disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”