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Disability advocates urge people to get COVID vaccination

As reported in Disability Scoop, advocates are calling for people with developmental disabilities to get vaccinated and they are pushing for this population to be eligible as soon as possible.

In a press release posted on its website, the Autism Society of America initiated the movement announcing they encourage the autism and ID/DD communities to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccination. The statement was also signed by Autism Speaks, Easterseals, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Down Syndrome Society, and many other well-established organizations.

The groups stated that getting vaccinated will benefit their stakeholders by:

  • Making it significantly less likely you’ll get COVID-19

  • May keep you from getting severely ill if you do contract COVID

  • Will help protect other vulnerable people around you including the elderly, people with disabilities, and those with underlying health conditions.

For those with disabilities, the advocates said that widespread vaccination could lead to resumption of regular therapy, respite services for caregivers and improved employment opportunities.

The benefits of vaccination could be greatest for those with more significant challenges, said Angela Geiger, president and CEO of Autism Speaks.

“For someone with autism and limited communication skills or behavior challenges common in autism, protection afforded by the vaccine can have an immeasurable impact,” she said. “This can also be a crucial step for family members and caregivers of people with autism who have more significant needs.”

The push from disability advocacy groups comes as the first COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in the US, albeit in limited supply. Advocates have been speaking out for months about the need for people with ID/DD to be prioritized in the distribution of any vaccines as they are deemed high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, according to a new report from the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) which represents disability service providers across the nation, only 10 states have addressed the needs of people with ID/DD in their plans to allocate vaccines.

The information on vaccines and when they will be made available (and to whom) is constantly changing and we will keep you posted as more information is made public. Until then, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 resource webpage.

Sources: Disability Scoop, The Autism Society of America, CDC

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