DETROIT – As some counties struggle to get the first group of seniors vaccinated the City of Detroit is moving ahead at full speed.
That includes vaccinating residents with a wide range of disabilities.
The decision to include those with disabilities early on has been hailed around the country as a positive step to protect people who might be the most vulnerable to the virus. It has made Detroit a national leader amid the struggle to get the vaccine out.
As cars make their way through the TCF Center in Downtown Detroit hundreds are being vaccinated.
However, unlike other places across the country among those being vaccinated are Detroiters with disabilities including people with developmental disorders like autism or attention deficit disorder.
“I was thrilled,” said Loren Glover, assistant executive director of the Arc Detroit.
He says people with disabilities are more likely to take public transportation or may have trouble understanding or complying with COVID rules like mask wearing making them more at risk for the virus.
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“They’re constantly in the community, and they get needs met. So, if they’re vaccinated, it lessens the spread in the community,” he said.
But there have been concerns raised about whether someone in their 20s with an intellectual or developmental disability should be able to be vaccinated before someone in their 60s.
Mayor Mike Duggan addressed that at the announcement last week.
“Somebody with down syndrome, no matter what their age has a five times greater likelihood than average, to get COVID and a 10 times greater likelihood to die from it, folks have cerebral palsy, or at a high risk and so we went to what we believe to be the next highest risk category,” he said.
Glover agreed stating many Detroiters with a disability need the help they can now receive.
“A lot of those people are non-verbal. They may have intellectual disabilities and they can’t advocate for themselves and we have to advocate for them,” he said.
Along with those with disabilities, the people who live with them, take care of them if they need it and those who transport them to appointments are also eligible for the vaccine but are limited to just one in home care provider per person.
Those with disabilities do need to bring some form of a medical record or prescription showing they live with a disability in order to get the shot.