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New films support vaccines and health checks for people with a learning disability

Published 25th January 2023, in News, News & Updates

We were pleased to be able to contribute to such an important resource working in partnership with NHS Devon and Devon County Council.

People who have a learning disability and those who care for them are being reminded that it’s not too late for them to have a free flu vaccination and additional Covid-19 booster.

Preventing Covid-19 and flu is particularly important for people with learning disabilities, who are much more vulnerable to both viruses.

A series of three new films, launched by NHS Devon and Devon County Council highlight the importance of having both the vaccinations and annual health checks.

The films follow Damon, who has a learning disability and is needlephobic as he has his vaccination and Kylie, who also has a learning disability and is a carer for her mum.

Dr Rachel Gaywood, NHS Devon’s Strategic Clinical Lead for Learning Disability and Autism said: “It is very important to have the vaccines, to help prevent you from becoming very ill.”

“We know some people feel nervous about it, but there are lots of things that we can do to make you feel more comfortable about having the vaccination.

“We really want everybody to not only have their Covid19 vaccination, but also to access all the health care that they are entitled, so for people with learning disability that’s having an annual health check.”

Kylie said: “I know that annual health checks are important, because I know for my peace of mind and my mum’s peace of mind that I am healthy, I am going to be around for a lot longer.”

Sarah Ogilvie, Public Health Consultant for Devon County Council said: “Nearly half of deaths are avoidable for people with learning disability, and that compares to about 22% for the general population. It’s really important that we increase the uptake of health checks for people with learning disability.”

This easy read leaflet explains the Flu vaccination and this guide, produced by the Learning Disability charity Mencap, explains the autumn Covid-19 booster and how to access it.

Healthcare professionals can make reasonable adjustments to make it easier for disabled people to have their vaccinations.

These could include:

  •  Ensuring the person does not have a long wait
  •  Longer appointments
  •  Showing them the equipment before the vaccination
  •  Numbing the injection site
  •  Offering nasal spray to adults if they are unable to have the injection (in GP surgeries)
  • Personalised planning for Vaccination

With appropriate support many people with a learning disability will be able to make an informed decision about the flu and autumn booster jabs.  If carers are worried a GP can assess the person with a learning disability’s capacity and if necessary, make the decision in their best interests.

Damon’s story NHS Devon – “Anything is possible” vaccine videos – YouTube  The video also includes information on blood tests and reasonable adjustments.

Damon’s story: NHS Devon – “Anything is possible” vaccine video – YouTube

Kylie’s story: NHS Devon “Anything is possible” vaccine videos – YouTube

Other useful links: