Weekly Poll – COVID-19 Vaccination Programme 

 Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue.  For the week beginning 30 November 2020, we asked a question about the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Results

Do you have any concerns about the recommended priority groups that have been identified to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during the first wave of distribution?  

  • YES – 28% (43 respondents)
  • NO – 72% (113 respondents)

Comments

We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

People Most at Risk

Some respondents believed that disabled people who were shielding should be prioritised to receive the vaccine, along with people with underlying health conditions who were not in the shielding category, but are still at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

“I am extremely worried about disabled people with other underlying problems, not getting the vaccine quicker than they are saying. We are just as much risk as some people of dying from the virus. To be placed so far down the list is shocking.”

“No objections to NHS and carers, but the next in line should be those at risk and over 75.”

“Concerned that people under 60 with underlying health conditions are not highly prioritised when we had to either shield or in one of the risk groups.”

“People who have been shielding should receive the vaccine first.”

“Younger people with conditions such as respiratory problems should have priority, otherwise there is a great risk of losing a young life because they didn’t get the vaccine.”

Vaccine Safety

A minority of respondents were concerned about the speed in which the vaccine has been approved and the possible side effects for people with underlying health conditions.

“I hope the vaccine is safe and there are no severe reactions – it’s all been done in such a rush.”

“Some of those to be vaccinated first are the most vulnerable and therefore may be the most at risk of adverse effects.”

“I worry over side effects and cross contamination of prescription drugs.”

“I feel that the government have rushed through the Pfizer vaccine and that it will be the most vulnerable in our society that become the guinea pigs to see if this vaccine has undesired side effects.”

Information and Transparency

Safety concerns can be alleviated by providing the public with clear and transparent information about the vaccine, which is distributed using a variety of accessible communication channels and formats.

“Would like to see details of all procedures involved in development and testing of vaccines published so that the whole system can be considered and assessed by those with relevant knowledge.”

“Will there be full disclosure, totally transparent informed consent for every individual willing to accept the vaccine?”

“Are we supposed to simply accept what we are being told blindly, accept the vaccine and say thank you very much? I am not opposed to vaccines and neither am I stupid, I need more evidence!”

“I am over 80 so I should be in a priority group, but I still have been unable to get the flu vaccination. I expect the same shambles will apply to COVID vaccination. I always seem to get left out because, due to being deaf, I cannot use telephones and NHS will not respond to emails.”

Carers

The pandemic has resulted in more people taking on unpaid caring roles for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives who are in a high-risk category. Some respondents suggested that unpaid carers should be prioritised to receive the vaccine. However, greater clarification is required to identify individuals in this category.

“How will my unpaid carer be contacted for the vaccine as they don’t qualify for carers allowance?”

“How will my unpaid carer be identified?”

One respondent questioned the process for obtaining consent for people living in care homes.

“Concerned for those in care homes who cannot give informed consent.”

Accessibility

It is important for the vaccine to be distributed at accessible locations in communities across the country. One respondent questioned whether disabled people can be vaccinated at home.

“Will there be a programme that allows at risk people or those previously shielding to be vaccinated at home especially if they have poor mobility.”

Conclusion

Respondents believed that people who have been shielding and are at high-risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 should be prioritised to receive the vaccine. However, some respondents were concerned by the speed of the vaccine approval and the possible side effects when mixed with existing medications. Concerns can be alleviated by disclosing information about the vaccine to the public, using a variety of accessible formats. A system must be in place to identify unpaid carers who are eligible to receive the vaccine. NHS Boards must identify accessible locations to distribute the vaccine in communities across Scotland.

Disability Equality Scotland, December 2020