January 25, 2021

Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccines for Those with Developmental Disabilities

As CEO of AbilityPath, I want to add my voice to the calls of those seeking to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for people with developmental disabilities.

In a recent story in Arizona’s Daily Independent, Madison Blanton, CEO of One Step Beyond Inc., a nonprofit that provides comprehensive programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, discusses this important topic. Blanton cites a recent Wall Street Journal article (COVID-19 Is Deadlier for People With Autism, Down Syndrome. Now Families Are Pushing Hard for Vaccines), which notes that people with autism and Down syndrome, “who account for one in 50 Americans, are on average more than 2½ times as likely to die from COVID-19 as the wider U.S. population.”

The sad reality is this high-risk segment of the population has not been prioritized for vaccinations (except in a relatively few cases).  Health officials acknowledge the higher death rate for those with developmental disabilities, and they need to make it a priority to provide vaccinations for this population.  Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of state and local authorities across the country still group individuals with disabilities in the same prioritization levels with those that are at a lower level of risk to complications from arising from COVID-19.

Our entire AbilityPath team strongly urges state and local authorities to prioritize vaccinations for those with disabilities, as well as their families and direct support professionals (DSPs). Please join us in advocating for this important – and potentially life-saving – call for vaccine prioritization for this vulnerable segment of our community. Notes of support for vaccine prioritization can be sent to COVID19vaccineoutreach@cdph.ca.gov.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is rapidly evolving. For the latest information on vaccine distribution, visit the California Department of Public Health and the San Mateo County and Santa Clara County public health sites.

AbilityPath has been a cornerstone of the greater San Francisco Bay Area community for 100 years, providing a lifespan of support services to individuals with developmental disabilities. We are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included. To learn more, visit www.abilitypath.org.

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