FLU: People with a Learning Disability are at Greater Risk of Developing Serious Illness

5 October 2020 4:30pm

People who have a learning disability can be more susceptible to the effects of flu and are therefore at increased risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

As the NHS emerges from the COVID pandemic, anyone with a learning disability is encouraged to get their free vaccination and annual health check to help stay well this winter.

Carers of anyone with a learning disability are also entitled to the free vaccination.

All carers (family member or support worker) are urged to ensure they are registered at their local GP practice as a carer of someone with a learning disability.

Individuals should also be on their GP Learning Disability Register to access the very best care.

Now is the time that GP practices and community pharmacies are carrying out vaccinations for those at risk.

The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it’s important to have the vaccine every year, especially as the flu virus strain changes every year.

Anyone who is defined as being in an ‘at risk’ group should contact their surgery and arrange an appointment to have the vaccine.

Having the vaccine sooner provides the individual with protection over a longer period of time; it also helps reduce the chances of spreading the virus to family and friends.

Julian Povey, Joint Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCGs, said: “Flu is a very unpleasant illness. The symptoms can be miserable for many of us, but it can lead to more serious complications, those who fall within certain clinical ‘at risk’ groups are more likely to experience those complications.

"People with a learning disability are more likely to fall into one of the at risk groups and therefore can be more susceptible to develop more serious complications like pneumonia. Respiratory conditions remain the most significant causes of premature mortality for people with a learning disability where deaths have been reviewed as part of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review programme.

“I’d urge those with a learning disability to make sure they have the vaccination as soon as possible. They should also ask to have their Annual Health Check. Carers of anyone with a learning disability should also get the free vaccine from their GP surgery or community pharmacy.”