Student with learning disabilities urges residents to ‘be brave’ and get vaccinated

Student with learning disabilities urges residents to ‘be brave’ and get vaccinated

by Tom Martin (April 2021)

A  student from south Sefton who has learning disabilities is urging others who are anxious or scared to ‘be brave’ and get their Covid-19 jab.

Emma James-Jenkinson, a performing arts student, shared her COVID-19 vaccination story during World Immunisation Week (April 24-30), in the hope it will inspire others who are nervous about needles.

The 17-year-old, who has Down’s syndrome, had severe anxiety about getting her first COVID-19 vaccination and initially refused to go after receiving a text message inviting her to book an appointment.

Unsure how to help her daughter, Emma’s mum Lynn  reached out to NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and North Park Health Centre in Bootle, who went the extra mile to help Emma get vaccinated.

Speaking about her experience, Emma said: “I was very scared of having the needle, but getting my vaccine made me feel happy and safe. It meant I could go back to college at Jelli Studios and see all my friends.

“It’s important for people like me with Down’s syndrome to be brave and get their needle. When I have to go back again, I might feel a little bit scared again, but I will be brave.

“After I got my vaccine, everyone started clapping and I felt so happy and proud for being brave.”

After overhearing Emma reassuring and motivate herself to ‘be brave’ even though the jab might ‘hurt a little bit’, Lynn reached out to Cathy Riley, practice manager at North Park Health Centre, who offered to see Emma right away and work with her to ensure they found a way to get vaccinated safely and calmly.

Cathy even offered to come out to the car park to arrange to give Emma her vaccine without her having to get out of the car.

Emma’s mum, Lynn, said: “Cathy and the team at North Park Health Centre were so friendly. The ‘human touch’ that they brought to our unique situation really helped us both. We felt like we were really listened to, and I can’t thank them enough.”

“I am happy knowing Emma feels safe to go out again and can get back to being a ‘young person’ and doing the things she enjoys.”

“It’s so important to make sure our young people with learning difficulties get protected from COVID-19, and it can be difficult to know what to do in this situation. I would say to any mum facing the same difficulties as us, to always call your GP or practice manager and ask for their support in making reasonable adjustments to get your family vaccinated. They are there to help.”

Cathy Riley, practice manager at North Park Health Centre said: “The strength and bravery that Emma showed had a real impact on our amazing team, and it brought tears to our eyes when she finally allowed our nurse to administer the vaccine.”

“The strength and bravery Emma showed touched us all. We were so elated that we all cheered and clapped for her and her proud mum.”

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