Everyone was so pleased to hear last week that all people with a learning disability who are on a GP register can now receive the Covid-19 vaccine under priority group 6. Read more on that here.
But people with learning disabilities and self-advocacy groups were also disappointed to see no mention of the hard work done by them in making this happen.
Learning Disability England agrees and is in support of what is said in this statement. We saw how much hard work was put in by self-advocates.
It was mainly because of people with learning disabilities campaigning and speaking up on the important issue of vaccine priority that we have seen change.
But people with learning disabilities have not had this recognition by the government, the JCVI or the media.
People with learning disabilities have experienced not having their voices be heard for a long time. It is not new and is not just because of Covid-19.
It is so important that we hear the voices of people who work for support organisations as well as family carers, but these voices must be heard alongside people with learning disabilities.
They should not be spoken for, people must speak for themselves.
The media has a role to play in this and should show more people with a learning disability using their voice and speaking out.
It’s also important they don’t just show people with a learning disability as being vulnerable. As the #valuableandvulnerable campaign shows, they are also valuable in lots of ways.
It was people with learning disabilities speaking up that saw this change with vaccine priorities happen and this was not spoken about.
It was also because the evidence proves people with a learning disability are much more at risk of dying from Covid-19. These statistics have not been recognised enough by the government either.
They have not spoken enough about how important it was that all people with learning disabilities be prioritised and that it should have happened earlier.
Sunderland People First and My Life My Choice, two groups that were actively involved in campaigning to see this important change made, both want to make this statement.
My Life My Choice had this to add:
“Prioritisation of the COVID-19 vaccination is a change self-advocacy organisations have been demanding for months. Once change was made, these same organisations were not given a voice. Health inequalities are still present and affect people with learning disabilities every single day. People with Learning Disabilities deserve to feel empowered by the media and prioritised when speaking up about the issues people with Learning Disabilities face. ”