People with disabilities advocating for vaccine priority

Getting the disabled vaccinated for COVID

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - In Alabama, people with disabilities are still not eligible for vaccines until Phase 1C, and national experts say that’s not right.

The director of Alabama’s advocacy group for people with disabilities says that tens of thousands of Alabama citizens are unable to get the vaccine right now. It’s the same story in other states, too.

“It shouldn’t matter if they are over 65 or under 65, if they are high risk of dying from COVID, they should be a priority for vaccine,” said Andy Imparato, the Executive Director of Disability Rights California.

Imparato serves on a national advisory committee for the disabled, and has been advocating for vaccines nationally.

“People with HIV AIDS, adrenoleukodystrophy or any number of conditions are more likely to die from COVID,” said Imparato.

Alabama’s state health officer knows of the gap.

“It is absolutely our goal to make sure all disabled people have access to the vaccine, it’s the compassionate thing to do, it’s the right thing to do,” said Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris.

He also acknowledges the struggle of identifying who is at-risk.

“It’s important to understand that disability in of itself may not put you at higher risk as someone who has cancer or immune problems,” said Dr. Harris.

Some states have made changes, like Michigan which is now vaccinating people with disabilities, and disability rights groups are hoping other states follow suit.

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