The government’s U-turn to prioritise those with learning difficulties for the coronavirus vaccine has provided much needed relief for countless individuals and families across the country.
Young adults with learning difficulties find it difficult to adjust to and comprehend the changes brought about by the pandemic. They are so vulnerable as they may not understand the reasons for restrictions, which, could increase their risk of contracting and transmitting the virus, and, also affect their mental health. The need for self-isolation when they or their families have been exposed to the risk of infection has further exacerbated the challenges these young people face during an important time in their development.
Many of the young adults I work with have been impacted with their college placements. Although vulnerable young adults with Education Health and Care plans should be able to attend educational settings, this has not always been the case. Some with medical conditions which make them more susceptible to the virus have not been able to attend due to risk assessments taken by the college as to whether they can offer sufficient protection from the virus. Some young adults have not been able to access their courses fully, as they have not been able to go out into the community to work on their independence and communication skills.
Being prioritised for the vaccine will mean young adults with learning disabilities will be able to return to college safely sooner and benefit fully from their post 19 education. EHC plans cover young people up to the age of 25 so it is extremely important that these years are not lost, as it will have a significant impact on the amount of assistance and support they will require after the age of 25. Post 19 education looks at developing independence skills as well as potential career placements, if this is not accessed fully, then increased funds will need to be spent by the government on supporting these young adults.
On Wednesday, the government announced that all individuals on the learning disabilities register will be prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine.