Vaccinating patients with learning difficulties

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As Covid-19 vaccines continue to be rolled out across North Central London, more people with a learning disability, and their carers are likely to be offered the opportunity to receive vaccination.

The following guidance may be helpful.


There is no legal requirement for consent to be in writing, however the informed consent should be recorded.

There is also no need to carry out a formal assessment of capacity if there is no reason to doubt that the person lacks capacity to consent. 

Assessing capacity

If there is reason to believe the person does not have capacity, then an assessment should be carried out.  During that assessment, steps should be taken to support the person make the decision.

The vaccine supporting consent form developed by Barnet can be used to help people with a learning disability to achieve capacity in relation to Covid-19 vaccines. 

In helping people to achieve capacity remember to:

  • Keep it simple
  • Short sentences
  • Do not set the bar too high

In supporting people to achieve capacity in relation to the vaccine, the easy read guide by Mencap may be helpful, in addition Keepsafe have compiled a series of easy read posters on Covid and the vaccine.

If these steps do not succeed, then a formal record of that fact should be made, and steps be taken to work out whether the vaccine will be administered on the basis of the consent of a registered Power of Attorney or Court appointed deputy with the relevant power, or on the basis of an agreement that it is in their best interests.

Best interests

The person administering the vaccine has to be satisfied that that in will be the persons (who lacks capacity) best interests. The process of helping to determine best interests will usually be best undertaken by those people who know the patient well.

To this ends Barnet has created a Best interests information gathering template, to aid care providers to gather information important to help make a best interest decision. This template should be completed in advance of a vaccination appointment, and shared with the person administering the vaccine. This will make any best interests decision process easier.

Vaccines ER Mencap

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Expiry date: Dec 31st, 2099