Covid-19 vaccination latest for children and young people with SEND and their carers
The NHS in Sussex will begin vaccinating patients against coronavirus this week, prioritising those who are most at risk of serious illness or death if they catch the virus, according to independent advice. Read the government’s vaccination priority list here. You can also read the advice that underpins the government’s vaccination priorities.
Broadly speaking the first priority groups will be the over 80s and frontline health and social care workers, particularly those working in care homes for older adults. This is because elderly people are at the very highest risk, more than younger adults, even if they are clinically extremely vulnerable or have underlying health conditions. Health and care workers, especially those in residential care settings are also a priority because of their personal risk but also their risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable people.
We know that many parent carers are very anxious to know more about the vaccine timeline for themselves and their clinically vulnerable children and young people. Many are also anxious about how and when to prepare their children for multiple injections.
Here’s what we know so far:
Young people over 16 who are clinically vulnerable
People aged 16 and over who are clinically extremely vulnerable (on the NHS shielded patient list) are thought to be at about the same risk as 70 to 74 year olds and so will be offered vaccination at around the same time. You should already know if your young person is considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable.
People aged 16 or over who have long-term health conditions (but are not in the extremely vulnerable category) will also be offered vaccination, just after the over 65s. There is a list in this guidance of which “long term conditions” are included. Adults with a severe or profound learning disability are on this list.
Those eligible for vaccination will be contacted as their group is reached.
Children under 16 who are clinically vulnerable
Children under 16 are seen as being at the very lowest risk of getting seriously ill, even if they are disabled or have health conditions. There is no information out yet about offering vaccination for the small group of under 16s who are still considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. This is bound to be worrying for families. One issue is that vaccines have not been tested on children, although this is now starting so there should be more information about vaccination for this group eventually.
This is an area of information that is changing and we will update it when we can.
According to the government’s priority list, adults who provide regular care for an elderly or disabled person will be vaccinated around the same time as adults with long term health conditions, but it’s not yet clear whether that includes unpaid family carers like parent carers. Our local NHS leaders are seeking more clarification but given that the major factor in deciding priority is risk of serious illness from the virus, not keyworker status, it seems unlikely that carers outside of NHS and social care settings will be included in earlier priority categories.
PAs and paid carers
Understandably, parent carers will want to know whether their PAs will be included as ”frontline social care workers” in the very early groups on the list or will they be with ”adults who provide regular care for an elderly or disabled person”. We don’t yet have information on this, but we are liaising directly with the local authority and CCG to try and get more information, and we will share it as we get it.
Where will you have the vaccine?
In Sussex, the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton received the first supply of the vaccine on 8 December. A limited number of GP-led local vaccination services will be able to start offering the vaccine to their patients in the week of 14 December.
The vaccination programme will be expanding over the coming weeks and months as more vaccine becomes available. This will include:
- more hospital hubs
- more GP-led local vaccination services
- establishing larger vaccination centres
- a roving service to take the vaccine into care homes and people’s own homes if they cannot attend a vaccination site
A priority in the NHS planning is to ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
Some parent carers are already anxious about preparing their children and young people with SEND for having a vaccination. We understand that immunisation professionals are working on ideas and communications to prepare our more vulnerable children and young people for the procedure. We will share updates on this as we get it, and also seek your suggestions and thoughts below which we will feed in.
You can read more details about vaccination and other health issues related to covid-19 in our online Coronavirus advice and support area.