Parents of autistic children are turned away from Covid jab centre ‘because their children are not disabled enough’

  • Suzanne Robinson was booked into have her jab but was turned away by staff
  • Incident echoes other experiences reported at Reading’s Madesjski Stadium
  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust apologised and urged family to get in touch

Parents of children with autism claim they were turned away from getting their vaccine because their youngsters ‘weren’t disabled enough’.

Matt Robinson and his wife Suzanne have a severely autistic son, Zac, who is 10.

Suzanne was booked in for a jab on March 1 after receiving a letter inviting her to Reading’s Madejski Stadium.

But when she arrived staff at the centre turned her away.

Matt, from Caversham, Berks, who is still waiting for his own jab, said: ‘It seems like someone there is playing God.

‘We got our letter and my wife booked in for an appointment on Monday. We should be in group six as parent carers and it is critical we have the jab.

Matt Robinson, pictured with wife Suzanne and their children Georgia and Zak, say staff at the Madejski Stadium are ‘playing god’

‘Zac needs full-time care, and if he were to get coronavirus it would be terrible for him. He just would not be able to cope with the medical equipment needed if he had to go to the hospital.

‘Also, if one of us got it, there would be no way we could look after him, which makes having the vaccine so important for us.

‘Yet my wife gets a letter, books an appointment and then gets turned away. She’s now had to reschedule at a pharmacy in Tilehurst and won’t get her jab for another three weeks.

‘The man there told my wife she was the 26th person they have had to turn away.

‘This is another sign of how little people seem to care for people with learning disabilities.’

The couple later phoned the government’s Covid hotline on 119 and were told they ‘absolutely should’ be eligible for the vaccine and should have got the jab.

The two families claim dozens of people were turned away, despite having booked their jabs

The incident mirrored another parent’s experience when they were turned away despite being the full-time carer of his son.

The father, who asked not to be named, claims he was booked for a jab nut turned away as he son is not ill enough.

He said: ‘There must have been 20 people turned away when I was there.

‘I’ve got the letter and booked my appointment at the stadium for the vaccine.

‘My son is 17 and is what they call a ‘high-functioning’ autistic. He still needs full-time care though. It got to my appointment time and I’ve basically been told that he’s not ill enough for me to get my vaccine.

‘So there are 20 of us there, who have all been told turned away. All these people have vulnerable children and have made a major effort to get here and then they’re turned away.

‘I don’t know if it’s an error, but we need to vaccinate because if we get ill, or our children get ill, it could lead to very serious consequences.

‘My appointment has not been rescheduled yet and I really hope we don’t end up slipping through the net because of this.’

The centre opened on Monday, February 22, and NHS bosses hope to be able to issue around 1,000 vaccines a day at the stadium. 

A spokesman for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We are sorry for the distress and inconvenience experienced by Mr and Mrs Robinson and would ask them to make contact so that we can ensure they can be vaccinated, in line with guidance set out on eligibility by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.’

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