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December 8, 2020Advocacy Matters

COVID-19 Vaccines

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

December 8, 2020



COVID-19 Vaccines

State governments are issuing drafts or, in some cases, have issued their final COVID-19 vaccine distribution policies.

Much like access to ICU, ventilator, and other COVID-19 care, people with disabilities and our families have concerns about who may be first in line for the vaccine, how much it will cost, and will it be included on everyone’s health insurance plan.  It’s absolutely clear there will not be enough vaccines from the current manufacturers to vaccinate every person in the U.S. or in the world for months.

Are vaccines even available yet in the U.S.? Not just yet, but they are coming.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (, a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be available this month, with supplies increasing in the weeks that follow.

Will the vaccines be free?  There will be vaccines purchased with our tax dollars.  Those doses will be free with only an administrative fee to give the shot.  Otherwise, we will have to check with our public or private health insurance company.  The Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Release Fund will have support for uninsured individuals.

The CDC recommends that we keep checking their website for more information and updates.

The CDC has also published its list of its allocation of the initial supplies of the vaccine.  The CDC Advisory Committee recommends: 1) health care personnel, 2) individuals that live in long-term care facilities.



It is important that disability rights organizations, people with disabilities, provider associations, and our families are members of State Vaccination Task Forces.  We are the ones who can best represent and inform our states in understanding the needs of people with disabilities.

It is important that people with disabilities are prioritized in state allocation plans.  Many people with disabilities are in high-risk groups either because of our health condition or because we live in an institutional setting, like a nursing facility.  Even individuals in group homes are at higher risk of infection.

It is also important to prioritize our health and mental healthcare workers.  This includes our direct support care staff.  A definition of health care worker must include our direct care support workers.

Plans cannot violate current federal and state civil rights laws or laws that prohibit discrimination in healthcare.

Stay tuned and stay informed with #AdvocacyMatters.