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UK is finding people with intellectual disability are getting left behind by the needle vaccine

The United Kingdom is well into its COVID-19 vaccination program, as they started vaccinating people in December last year. This makes them a good nation for Australia to watch and learn from as we begin our own vaccination rollout.

In the UK, they’re finding that many people with intellectual or learning disability are really struggling with the vaccine because it’s by injection. One parent quoted in a BBC News article said that their son, who is clinically extremely vulnerable, would "flip completely" if someone came towards him with a needle.

This is a group of people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. A report from the UK states that people with learning disability are up to six times more likely to die from COVID-19.

The number of cases and the spread of COVID are much higher in the UK than in Australia (they currently have an average of 7,680 new cases a day and an overall total of 4.19 million cases). However, the only options at the moment for people who can’t handle a needle in the UK are either:

  • shielding or isolating at home
  • giving the person medicine to calm or sedate them before injecting the vaccine.

To protect people in the UK who want to be vaccinated, there is a need for the urgent release of an alternate form of the vaccine. The UK government is currently trialling an inhaled vaccine, but the trial won’t be completed until August.

Any vaccine to be used in Australia needs to be approved by the Therapeutic Good Administration.

You can read more about the situation in the UK in a BBC News article.

19 March 2021
Applies to all states