Covid-19 Update – 12/08/2021  

The JCVI is advising that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.

The T21RS data suggests that young people who have Down syndrome are at a greater risk of developing complications related to COVID-19, although the numbers were low and the evidence relates to data collected during the first wave of COVID-19 i.e.  till June 2020.

The vaccine is being offered to decrease the severity of COVID-19  disease, if contracted.

Real-world data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in children is currently limited, but there have been extremely rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) following the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in millions of younger adults. We do not know why this occurs, an underlying cardiac condition does NOT make the person more vulnerable.

The vaccine prevents severe disease, but does not necessarily prevents anyone from getting COVID-19 or PIMS.

It is important to reassure families that being offered vaccination is not equated with being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. The vast majority of children with severe disabilities are not CEV and it is important that the families do not go back to shielding and children not going to school. The decision if a child/ young person is clinically extremely vulnerable is dependent on their underlying associated medical condition e.g. receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medication etc.

We are aware that children and young people with a severe and moderate intellectual disability, would find it a challenge to maintain measures to prevent contracting COVID-19,  e.g. tolerance to wear a face mask and strict hand hygiene measures and in addition may find hospitalisation a more challenging experience. It is for these reasons young people with a significant intellectual disability are being offered the vaccine.

We are unaware of any deaths from COVID-19 in children with Down syndrome in the U.K.

For further information visit the JCVI site https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-of-children-and-young-people

All information relating to Down syndrome and COVID-19 can be found here. This is being updated to take account of new research findings and updated UK government advice as it becomes available.


This site provides essential information for healthcare professionals on ‘best practice’ medical care for people with Down syndrome in the UK and Ireland. It has been produced by the UK Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group (DSMIG), a network of doctors whose aim is to ensure equitable provision of medical care for all people with Down syndrome in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

This site has been developed to provide a resource of evidence based information towards this aim and includes

  • DSMIG Information resources- these are resources developed by DSMIG and include Guidelines for basic essential medical surveillance, key points and awareness notes, Personal child health record insert, Growth charts etc
  • Other Information resources- this is a wider range of resources including articles , other websites that we have found useful
  • Information about DSMIG activities

The website has been developed primarily to equip healthcare professionals with the resources they need to help them provide good, evidence based care for people with Down syndrome.

Although designed for health professionals we hope it will be of interest and use to a wider range of people who are interested in promoting health and well being of those with Down syndrome including parents and carers. We do however wish to stress that it is intended to complement, and never replace, direct medical consultation. For information more specifically designed for parents and carers please see other organisations.

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