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Coronavirus Pandemic

U.K. mother dismayed that daughter with severe developmental disabilities can’t be vaccinated sooner

Mo Robinson with daughter and son
Photo: Mo Robinson

Mo Robinson, from Mold in Flintshire, said her daughter should have been “urgently” prioritized for a Covid-19 vaccine because of her severe developmental disabilities.

Figures show that people with learning disabilities are up to six times more likely to die of the coronavirus.

Robinson’s daughter, Amy, 27, has many health issues, including multiple profound developmental disabilities.

She lives in specialist housing supported by a team of eight caregivers.

Due to the nature of her disabilities, Amy cannot wear a mask or socially distance, forcing her to be house-bound.

Her mother said, “She may be 27, but developmentally she’s probably a baby. She has no understanding at all of what [the pandemic] is.
“Because she can’t go out, I’ve noticed her becoming more withdrawn and agitated. She self-harms, biting her hand in frustration and drawing blood…

“I also feel like if she caught Covid, she could die. She’s non-verbal, so she can’t tell people what’s wrong, and she wouldn’t tolerate wearing an oxygen mask or having treatment.

Robinson feels that Amy and others like her have been “forgotten,” asserting, “Amy doesn’t have a voice.

A lot of adults with learning disabilities don’t have a voice.”

Presently, people with a ‘severe or profound learning disability’ have been placed in priority group six, which includes all individuals aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions that increase their risk of serious disease and death.

Mencap, a charity for people with learning disabilities, has voiced its concerns, saying people living in residential and supported living are vulnerable due to their shared living accommodation, and that containing the spread is made more difficult in such environments.

A Mencap spokesperson stated, “We believe the evidence shows they should have been included in priority group one, alongside older people living in care homes.”

This issue garnered attention after well-known radio DJ, Jo Whitley, revealed that she was offered the vaccine before her younger sister who has diabetes and learning disabilities.

Whiley said she was “living through a nightmare” after her sister’s care home declared a coronavirus outbreak. She later confirmed Frances, 53, had contracted the virus.

A Welsh Government spokesperson stated, “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization recommended that people with severe and profound learning disability should be vaccinated in the current priority group (six).

“That language is rarely used in Wales, where we use a social model of disability, and our preference is for inclusion over exclusion for this group of the population to ensure no one is missed or left behind.

“People have already started to receive invitations for a vaccine, including those living in supported accommodation. Others will do so over the weeks ahead.”

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