BALTIMORE – Disability rights advocates have sued Queen Anne and Talbot Counties, as well as four other Maryland jurisdictions, alleging discriminated against vaccination access to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The lawsuit, which The Arc Maryland filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern Division of Maryland on Monday, calls on Counties of Queen Anne, Talbot, Somerset, Garrett and Carroll, and Baltimore City to exclude people with disabilities from their online lists, which shows who is eligible for vaccination in phase 1B.
The local government-run coronavirus educational website for Talbot County did not list people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as qualified vaccine recipients on Wednesday evening, March 10. Queen Anne’s County’s website was updated to include the group after district leaders learned of the lawsuit.
The Arc, represented by Disability Rights Maryland, said in a statement that it had taken legal action against the jurisdictions because “people with IDD are not given equal access to vaccines.” The organization cited the case of a woman in Baltimore City as evidence of inequalities in access to vaccines.
The woman who the group said had muscular dystrophy said she did not know she and her son with Down syndrome were eligible for the vaccination as the city does not list people with disabilities as eligible on its COVID-19 website have.
Lauren Young, Maryland’s disability rights litigation director, urged “these places to take immediate corrective action to fix their information” and “save lives.”
Young said the jurisdiction must “establish forms that exclude people with disabilities from eligibility claims and seeking vaccine appointments; Communicate with health ministry staff and others that people with disabilities are eligible and assist them in obtaining the vaccine. “
Queen Anne’s Commissioner, Chris Corchiarino, and Talbot’s Health Officer, Dr. Maria Maguire, told APG Media in response to the allegations in the lawsuit that they were disappointed with the move. Corchiarino and Maguire said none of them received any notice of such discrimination concerns from any individual or organization prior to the lawsuit.
Calling the lawsuit “unfounded,” Maguire said her department had made “a great effort” to vaccinate people with disabilities against COVID-19 and admitted them to their vaccination clinics in mid-January when Governor Larry Hogan first opened the group .
“This population has always been a high priority for us,” she said. “In addition to working with organizations that serve this population, we have coordinated directly with individuals to invite them to vaccination clinics.”
Maguire said her team worked to ensure inclusion in the prioritization of vaccination, worked directly with the three group homes for people with disabilities in the county, and ensured that people unable to wear face masks were vaccinated by nurses in their cars .
Corchiarino described similar efforts in his county. He said he was not made aware of any case in which a person with disabilities was denied access to the vaccine for lack of authorization.
I said to The Arc, ‘If you know someone who thinks they’re eligible and not allowed to register, get me the names. I’ll put her on the list, ”Corchiarino said. The county commissioner, who has a legal background as an attorney, believes the lawsuit is an “abuse of the legal system.”
While Corchiarino said he was not sure whether The Arc would continue his lawsuit, he said the reasons for it were not solid and that the statements in the complaint were “not true” so he did not know “what will bring them forward.” must “on.”
Ray Marshall, chairman of the board of directors of The Arc Maryland, said he and the disability rights advocacy groups that joined The Arc in filing the complaint “hope this action will result in an immediate change for the benefit of all.”
Four of the six jurisdictions named in the lawsuit have since updated their approval lists to include people with disabilities. Counties of Talbot and Somerset had not updated their websites by March 10.
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