Disability ministers urged to prioritise COVID-19 access for people with disability

The board of People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has written to all state-and-territory disability ministers today urging them to ensure people with disability don’t miss out on COVID-19 injections if they want them.

PWDA President Samantha Connor said today that disabled people and their supporters in the various states and territories were experiencing difficulties accessing the vaccine.

She said it was time for disability ministers to ensure the most clinically vulnerable people in Australia were protected with COVID-19 shots.

“People with disability, including clinically vulnerable people and marginalised populations, must not miss out on COVID-19 vaccines during the country’s push to vaccinate frontline workers and Australians aged 50-plus,” Ms Connor said.

“People in group homes, and rural and remote areas are missing out on vaccines across the nation.

“We need to make sure people at risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 can be vaccinated, including young our clinically vulnerable people younger than 50.”

PWDA’s board wrote to each state-and-territory disability minister calling for clinically vulnerable people to be protected by the various governments by outlining a seven-point action plan for the jurisdictions to implement.

The disabled people’s organisation, which has members across the country, outlined who it meant by clinically vulnerable people, and flagged what could be done to help them.

Among the advocacy organisation’s recommendations were to allow the vaccination of people in group or congregate settings, people in shared care, people with autism and psychosocial disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Challenges in vaccine rollout are being experienced across the country, with Down Syndrome Australia reporting that people with Down syndrome in Western Australia are unable to access the Pfizer vaccine, despite it generally being possible in New South Wales and South Australia.

PWDA’s president called on disability ministers to identify the challenges being experienced in their state or territory.

“We welcome any efforts that states and territories have made to ensure that people with disability stay safe during COVID,” Ms Connor said.

“But we challenge disability ministers to identify any local challenges people might be facing in ensuring the vaccine rollout is available to clinically vulnerable people and marginalised populations.”

PWDA has invited disability ministers to line up a meeting with the organisation to focus on how we can ensure disabled people are included in state-and-territory emergency-preparedness planning.

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