FIRST HAND: a Mencap campaign assistant shares their experience of getting the COVID-19 vaccine

As people across the UK continue to get their first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Vijay, a campaign assistant at Mencap who has a learning disability himself, shares his experience.

Vijay

I have a learning disability and it’s been really scary that lots of people with a learning disability have died from coronavirus. And it was also worrying that, at first, people with a learning disability were not even being prioritised for the COVID vaccine. Together with my team at Mencap, I campaigned to make sure everyone with a learning disability would be prioritised and could get the jab.

Nervous

The truth is though, for myself, I felt unsure about getting it. I thought it was important we campaigned for people with a learning disability and tell the government what needed to change, but personally I felt very anxious about the getting my jab. I kept thinking about the side effects and couldn’t help but feel nervous. I thought about it a lot over the months and spoke to my friends and colleagues.

For me, it was all about making sure I had accessible and accurate information with all the facts.

And, as a person with a learning disability, it was very important to have Easy Read information. People with a learning disability need clear and accessible information to make their choices, and to help them feel less nervous.

Protect

I used Mencap’s Easy Read information that told me about the vaccine and what would happen when I got it, and this helped me to make my decision.

Finally at the end of May, I had my first jab. The reason I decided to get it was to protect myself and others around me who I care about. I also missed doing the things I love during the first lockdown, and in the future I want to get out and enjoy socialising again with my friends and colleagues.

On the day when I went to get my first vaccine the staff supported me and reassured me, and I also had a family member there to support me. I was nervous about the needle, but the staff were understanding and gave me helpful advice like not to look at it. In the end, I didn’t feel anything at all – and it was done in less than ten seconds!

For advice and information about learning disability and  Mencap  services in your area, contact  Mencap’s Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email  helpline@mencap.org.uk

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