Latest COVID-19 Update

On this page, you will find some of the latest updates about COVID-19, that are particularly relevant to people with Down’s syndrome and their families.

Please note: this page was last updated on 12th May 2022. We are working to keep this information as up to date as possible. 

 

 

The Latest Scottish Government Advice Published to People on the Higher Risk List

The Highest Risk List will end on 31 May 2022

The Scottish Government has made the decision to end the Highest Risk List after a review of all the evidence from the past two years on the impact of Covid-19 on people who are on the List.

The High-Risk List was referred to previously as the Shielding Group and sometimes as the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group.  Individuals with Down’s syndrome were added to these groups, during the pandemic, because of the significantly heightened risk that COVID posed to members of our community.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is sending out letters to everyone on the Highest Risk list to explain why the list will end, what bringing the list to an end means and how to access treatments and support if you need it.

We now understand that, even though the High-Risk Group is ending, individuals with Down’s syndrome will still be able to access antiviral treatments and receive free Lateral Flow Test kits. Unpaid carers will also be eligible for free lateral flow tests. Details of this will be confirmed in the CMO letters being issued this week

We will keep you updated as we have more information, but in the meantime if you would like to talk to someone about any of this information or have any concerns or questions about accessing treatments or support, our Family Support Team are here to help. You can contact them on 0300 030 2121 or via live chat on our website/Hub21 (when available), or by email familysupportservice@dsscotland.org.uk


Past Announcement – March 2022

The Scottish Government has announced their new staged approach to easing protective measures and legal requirements associated with the COVID-19 Guidance. Some key dates for this are;

  • Vaccine certification is no longer be legally required, although the app remains available for businesses and customers who still wish to use this on a voluntary basis
  • From 21st March the current legal requirements on the use of face coverings and collecting customer details for contact tracing purposes will be lifted (this will be reviewed closer to the time subject to the state of the pandemic).
  • Access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge and people who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate.

We encourage you to continue to adhere to the public health guidance. Please also take up the option to get the booster vaccination if you are eligible and/or have been called forward and, of course, it is never too late to get your first or second dose of the vaccine. We are being encouraged to test regularly and this LINK will take you to a webpage that allows you to find out where to obtain free lateral flow test kits close to where you live.

A quick summary of the current public health guidance is as follows:

  • Have your booster vaccination as soon as you are able.
  • Test regularly using free lateral flow device tests even if you don’t have symptoms, especially before mixing with other people.
  • Wear face coverings on public transport and in shops and indoor public places including workplaces, unless exempt.
  • If mixing with others, try to gather in small groups only.
  • Keep hands and surfaces clean.
  • Maintain good ventilation (for example, keeping windows open where this is possible).
  • A mixture of home and office working is allowed.

Vaccination for 5-11-year-olds 

In January 2022 Public Health Scotland advised that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been extended to include youngsters with a specific medical condition, including 5-11-year-olds who have Down’s syndrome. Letters of invitation and an information leaflet about this change were issued to families in early February.

Public Health Scotland has prepared a Q & A about the latest updates to the vaccination programme, this can be viewed here.

If you have a child within this age group and have not received a letter, please contact us and we will do our best to get you onto the roll-out. You should also contact your GP if you haven’t received any correspondence.

In February 2022 the Scottish Government confirmed their plans to extend the Covid-19 vaccination programme to all children aged 5-11 years old. This follows the JCVI recommendation of universal vaccination for 5 – 11-year-olds. Vaccination appointments will be offered in community clinics from 19 March 2022. Appointments will be scheduled by age with 11-year-olds invited first, efforts will be made to invite siblings for appointments at the same time. You can find out more about these arrangements here.

Publish Health Scotland have put together a number of resources for parents and carers about vaccination for 5-11 years olds, their leaflet on this can be viewed here, further information can also be found on the NHS Inform webpage here.


Antiviral and antibody treatments for people with Down’s syndrome 

We have received confirmation that new treatments will be available for people with Down’s syndrome, who test positive for COVID-19 after taking a PCR test.

There are two treatments – one is an antiviral treatment and one is an antibody treatment. The antiviral treatment will be available to take at home and is available only for adults with Down’s syndrome (18+) who test positive after taking a PCR test; the antibody treatment will be administered only through hospitals and is for more acute cases of COVID infection and is licensed for use on individuals aged 12+.

Antivirals are treatments used to treat those who are infected with a virus and they target the virus at an early stage, preventing progression to more severe, or even critical, symptoms. The treatment is a pill that is taken four times a day over a five-day period. The antibody treatment is managed in hospitals and is for more acute cases of COVID infection to prevent these cases progressing into severe COVID infections. I really hope that none of our adults or adolescents with Down’s syndrome find themselves admitted to hospital with an acute COVID infection but should you find yourself in that position, please remember that the antibody treatment is available for people with Down’s syndrome aged 12 and above.

A letter has now been issued from the Scottish Government/NHS to all those eligible for the treatments. The letter will explain what steps to take and how you can access the antiviral treatment, should your son or daughter or relative with Down’s syndrome test positive after taking a PCR test. We are pleased that the Chief Medical Officers have agreed to include adults with Down’s syndrome in the first wave of people eligible to receive the antiviral treatment. You can read more about this on the NHS Inform page here.


If you have any difficulty in getting the support or information that you need our Family Support team are here to help.        Call our helpline 0300 030 2121 or email familysupportservice@dsscotland.org.uk.


Below you will find links to a table that outlines how many Covid-19 Vaccine doses you are eligible for and a Q & A on the Booster Programme, both produced by Public Health Scotland…