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Marisa Howard-Karp, MS
on
December 19, 2020

People with disabilities should have priority access to the COVID vaccine

People with certain disabilities or chronic medical conditions have a higher rate of infection, and recent studies show that people with disabilities are three times more likely to die of COVID than the general population.

A Statement from the Exceptional Lives team

Exceptional Lives calls on public health officials to include people with disabilities among the highest-priority groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Widespread vaccination is one of the most powerful tools we have to fight this global pandemic, and those who have been hit hardest by COVID should be the first to have access. 

People with certain disabilities or chronic medical conditions have a higher rate of infection, and recent studies show that people with disabilities are three times more likely to die of COVID than the general population. 

While “people with disabilities,” covers a wide range of people, we recognize that people with disabilities are more likely to live in congregate care settings, come into close contact with personal caregivers, or experience physical, intellectual, and discrimination-related barriers to both prevention and care.

In addition, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to have another condition that puts them at greater risk for poor outcomes from COVID.

For this reason, many people with disabilities face challenges above and beyond the general population in:

  • Finding accessible information about how to prevent infection

  • Wearing masks

  • Maintaining social distancing

  • Accessing COVID tests

  • Getting medical care if they become infected

Priority access to vaccines would reduce infection and death rates and would allow people with disabilities to:

  • Return more quickly to in-person learning and employment

  • Access critical therapies and medical care in-person

  • Reconnect with family members and friends and reduce social isolation

For the family members and caregivers who are caring full-time for children or siblings with disabilities, the vaccine will provide an opportunity for much-needed outside support.

For all these reasons, prioritizing people with disabilities for vaccine access is the right thing to do for people with disabilities, for those who love them, and for our communities.

Additional Sources:

COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities

A Call to Make All Covid-19 Vaccine Information Accessible

COVID-19 Vaccine Should Go To Those With Developmental Disabilities First, Advocates Say

People with disabilities and COVID-19

People with learning disabilities should be prioritised for a Covid vaccine

A Crisis Decades in the Making: Disability Housing Policy and COVID-19

  • Marisa Howard-Karp, MS

    Chief Operating Officer

    Marisa Howard-Karp has spent her career in public health working on improving access to health care and services. As a parent and caregiver to four children with disabilities, she has had a crash course in navigating complex services and loves being able to think about how to make that system easier for other families. She’s a non-profit lifer and a Georgia native who has made her home in the Boston area.

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