Thank you for your email about COVID-19 vaccines for those with learning disabilities and autism. I know this has been an incredibly difficult and worrying time for people with learning disabilities and autism. As your MP, I am absolutely committed to supporting people with learning disabilities and autism through every stage of the pandemic, as I know my ministerial colleagues in Government are.
I understand that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has carefully considered the prioritisation of those with learning disabilities and autism. Current evidence strongly indicates however that the single greatest risk of mortality from COVID-19 is increasing age and that the risk increases exponentially with age. When compared to persons without underlying health conditions, the absolute increased risk in those with underlying health conditions is considered generally to be lower than the increased risk in persons over the age of 65. The exception to this is the clinically extremely vulnerable. JCVI's advice is therefore to offer vaccination to those aged 65 years and over followed by those in clinical risk groups aged 16 years and over. This includes those with severe and profound learning disabilities.
It is important to note also that while the JCVI has given its recommendations on the first phase of prioritisation (groups 1-9), JCVI is still due to come forward with further recommendations of further prioritisation. I have already made representations to ministers to seek assurance that people with learning disabilities are carefully considered again by JCVI.
I know that the JCVI is in the process of considering the next phase of the vaccination programme and they have said that the points raised with them regarding the wider numbers of persons with mild and moderate learning disabilities and autism will be taken into account in the relevant discussions and considerations ahead. I will be following developments closely.