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 18th January 2022. We are working to keep this information as up to date as possible. 

5-11-year-olds with Down’s syndrome

We have been advised by Public Health Scotland that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been extended to include youngsters with a specific medical condition, and 5-11-year-olds who have Down’s syndrome will be invited for their first vaccination from this week onwards.

Letters of invitation and an information leaflet about this change will be issued from this week to all families with a 5-11-year-old with Down’s syndrome. Parents and carers are being advised that they do not need to book an appointment online as they will be contacted by their health board. The letter will set out the arrangements in your locality. Further information is available on the Scottish Government website here.

If you have not received a letter by early February, 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.

The decision to extend the vaccination programme to include 5-11-year-olds in high-risk groups (Down’s syndrome is an identified high-risk group) was taken following the independent recommendation of the JCVI on 22nd December 2021. We have been campaigning for families of children with Down’s syndrome to be offered the choice for a number of months now and we are pleased the option is now becoming available to you.

For those of you with a child under 11, can I ask you to consider taking part in the UCL (University College London) survey about the impact of COVID-19 on children under 11. The survey is being undertaken in collaboration with the Trisomy 21 Research Society and can be accessed HERE.

Omicron variant

All of us will be acutely aware of the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant and the further restrictions that have been advised and introduced this week, following the First Minister’s statements in Parliament. We have issued advice to our local branches that any face-to-face gatherings that are planned in the lead up to Christmas and immediately thereafter should now be postponed in light of this new advice and guidance. As difficult as it is, after another challenging year, we must do everything in our power to keep our loved ones safe and protected from the new variant, as best we can.

We encourage you 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, especially before mixing with other people.
  • Wear face coverings on public transport and in shops and indoor public places including workplaces, unless exempt.
  • Minimise physical social contact as much as possible and ideally do not have any more than three households coming together.
  • Avoid crowded places and keep a safe distance, especially indoors, from people who are not in your own household.
  • Keep hands and surfaces clean.
  • Maintain good ventilation (for example, keeping windows open where this is possible).
  • Work from home where possible.

 

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 and it is called Molnupiravir, but also known on the market under its brand name Lagevrio. 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 will be issued in the coming days 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.

 

If you have any concerns or questions please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0300 030 2121 and our Family Support team will be able to support you.

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.