SLDO statement on Covid-19 vaccination priority for people with learning disabilities


We wholeheartedly welcome the decision by the Scottish Government, announced on 22nd February 2021, to invite all people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland for Covid-19 vaccination as part of priority group 6. We also welcome today’s decision by the UK Government to prioritise all people with learning/intellectual disabilities in England for vaccination. These decisions will bring relief to people with learning/intellectual disabilities and their families.

The Observatory team’s analysis of  data on COVID-19 mortality and infection risk for the population with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland provided robust evidence to support these decisions. Our recent study shows that compared to the general population, people with learning/intellectual disabilities are at 3 times greater risk of death due to Covid-19, twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19 and twice as likely to have a severe COVID-19 infection.  People with learning/intellectual disabilities already experience significantly worse health outcomes and excess mortality compared to the general population. These inequalities are reflected in this important study.

We are encouraged that the vaccine prioritisation has been amended to include this marginalized population and we will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and health and care professionals to identify ways to further reduce risk of Covid-19 infection for people with learning/intellectual disabilities. 

We stand alongside our colleagues at partner organisations who have worked tirelessly to influence the decision making around vaccine prioritisation and we recognise their invaluable contribution to ensuring that people with learning/intellectual disabilities receive urgently needed care and protection. We would also like to thank Joan McAlpine MSP, Jackie Baillie MSP and Claire Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health, for their work in advocating for the needs and rights of people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland.

Published on 24.2.21