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Addressing the Barriers to Vaccinating the Disability Community

Disability Rights NJ recently received a grant from the Administration for Community Living to help increase COVID-19 vaccination among individuals with disabilities. Although individuals with disabilities who live in congregate settings have largely been vaccinated, many individuals with disabilities who live in the community have faced barriers in obtaining a vaccine. First, many individuals with disabilities are unable to leave their homes due to the nature of their disabilities. In addition, many individuals with disabilities who can leave their homes lack the transportation to get to a vaccine site. Many individuals are concerned that the vaccination site may not have the accommodations that they need when they arrive at a vaccine site. Finally, many individuals with disabilities cannot access the website to schedule a vaccine.

In addition, as with the rest of the population, many individuals with disabilities are vaccine hesitant for reasons beyond their disability. For some individuals, they are concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. For others, they may have cultural resistance to vaccines. For some individuals, there may be religious or political reasons for refusing a vaccine. Many of these individuals with disabilities may be hesitant now but eventually may be open to vaccine acceptance, especially as vaccine distribution moves from large megasites to local distribution sites such as pharmacies, and eventually doctor’s offices.