More people with learning disabilities to receive vaccine: Here’s what to do if you have recently been prioritised

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Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced there will be some changes to the vaccination groups, with those with a severe or profound learning disability and those with severe mental illness to be prioritised in group 6.

It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who advise the Welsh Government on vaccination schedules and vaccine safety has updated its guidelines.

Who is now included in priority group 6?

Group 6 now includes those with a learning disability or a mental illness, individuals over 16 who have an underlying health condition and unpaid carers.

Why are people with learning disabilities and mental illnesses being prioritised?

Many adults with learning disabilities are much more susceptible to poor health outcomes and therefore coronavirus is much more likely to cause harm to those people.

The JCVI said that its list prioritises those individuals who have an increased risk of being severely ill if they contract Covid-19, with the aim of reducing the number of hospitalisations and deaths.

BBC presenter Jo Whiley began questioning why she was offered the vaccine before her sister - who has the rare Cri du Chat genetic syndrome - last week and started to call for an expansion of the priority group.

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When will I receive my vaccine?

The sixth group in the vaccination programme is now a very large group, but Vaughan Gething said he hopes that the updated guidelines "will give people a lot of comfort about the fact that they can expect to be receiving in the very near future those appointments for them or their loved ones to receive a vaccination."

Where will I get my vaccine?

Where possible, vaccinations for group 6 will be delivered at your local GP surgery rather than at mass vaccination centres.

Welsh Government research shows that 'individuals will generally feel less anxious having their vaccination in the familiar and smaller environment' of a GP practice.

How do I know if the GP has my details?

For unpaid carers and those with learning disabilities, the JCVI has suggested the use of GP registers.

The information of all those identified in the priority group will be sent to the Welsh immunisation system that will then generate a vaccination appointment.

Identifying people for this group using GP health records could be challenging.

The Welsh Government has said that health boards can look to the third sector, local councils, and community mental health teams to help them identify people who are eligible to be added to the priority group 6 list.

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As of 24 February, 878,506 people have received the first dose of the vaccine in Wales.

This includes over 85 per cent of the first five priority groups.

  • Here's the current JCVI priority list:

1. People living in a care home for older adults and their staff carers.

2. All those 80 years of age and older and frontline health and social care workers.

3. All those 75 years of age and over.

4. All those 70 years of age and over and people who are extremely clinically vulnerable (also known as the “shielding” group) – people in this group will previously have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising them to shield.

5. All those 65 years of age and over.

6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

7. All those 60 years of age and over.

8. All those 55 years of age and over.

9. All those 50 years of age and over.

This JCVI priority list is being followed by all four nations in the UK.