Small COVID-19 vaccination clinics supply hope for disabled

Mitch Allen wants to go to a restaurant. And go to a place with music. And to meet up with his family again during the holidays.

One of his two roommates wants to bowl again.

“Maybe we can be safe and move on, getting back to normal,” said Allen, 50, after receiving the second dose of his COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic Wednesday for four homes in the Oakland County group for residents with developmental disabilities.

Beth Downey, 54, agreed, saying that once she is fully vaccinated, she looks forward to being outside and more with her friends.

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The residents of Chamberlain House, Luz Gutierrez (center) and Claudia Giron De Alvardo (left), will receive the COVID-19 vaccine on May 5, 2021 from Lachristia Hinesat, vaccine coordinator of Get Ready Vaccine in the Max M. Fisher Federation building in Bloomfield Hills.

For Downey, Allen, and others with developmental disabilities, the COVID-19 vaccines offer the promise of returning to their pre-pandemic routines of trips, programs, and jobs, and reducing the fear of serious injury or death for those who are infected and have chronic underlying health problems .

Housing for many people with disabilities began in March 2020 when the novel coronavirus hit Michigan, including the Chamberlain House in Pontiac, where Downey and eleven others live, and many fell ill with the virus.

“Vaccination will be key to reaching the matrix that will enable people in these environments and those with developmental disabilities to be back in the community without having to make decisions about what may affect their health and their lives said Shaindle Braunstein, CEO of JARC, a half-century-old nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities through group homes, independent housing assistance and home care.

“The social and emotional support they need from the extended family, from friends and the feeling of being; that ‘I’m out’ and ‘I’m part of the things that are going on’ and ‘I’m not isolated out here Corner.’ … That is security. At the same time, this is the key to making sure we resolve some of the mental health problems that come with isolation. “

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Chamberlain House manager Martha Aceves helps resident Robert Mcytireat get out of the house after receiving her COVID vaccine on May 5, 2021 at the Max M. Fisher Federation building in Bloomfield Hills.

Since January, JARC has set up clinics that have vaccinated more than 2,000 people, including people with disabilities, their carers and others. It has housed 10 smaller clinics, such as the one Wednesday in the Max M. Fisher Federation building in Bloomfield Hills, where a group house and its residents and carers came to their recordings.

The smaller clinical settings are used to better accommodate those using a wheelchair or walking aid. or who have sensory sensitivities such as light and sound; or that are non-verbal when larger walk-up or drive-in vaccination clinics are unsuitable.

“They have the group they live in; the people they know. It’s often like family,” said Jenny Kabert, JARC’s director of philanthropy.

Martha Aceves, a property manager at Chamberlain House, said 10 of the dozen residents received their second shot on Wednesday. The Oakland County Health Division provided the second doses and JARC has also partnered with pharmacies for vaccines.

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Bill Mullan, spokesman for county executive Dave Coulter, said the county wants to give each of the 1,800 residents on its Save Your Spot list who have identified themselves as disabled the opportunity to get vaccinated through JARC.

He said the county wants to offer clinic options that are in a person’s comfort zone, be it in a location near their home, in a familiar place with familiar people, or in a place that understands their particular needs.

People with disabilities may be at higher risk of developing the coronavirus as many have conditions that put them at higher risk of developing serious illnesses. You can also live in close proximity to others, e.g. B. in a community environment. You are in close contact with caregivers or have difficulty wearing a mask, washing your hands, or staying at least three feet away from others.

Jeffrey Nolish, Political Director of Detroit Disability Power, said last winter, “We were hoping that local, county, and state governments would offer vaccines and give people with disabilities a high and immediate priority. Week After a Week passed and we found that it wasn’t. “

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He said a number of studies came out this fall that indicated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were three times more likely to die when they got the coronavirus, people with Down syndrome were ten times more likely to die, and people with schizophrenia were also more likely to die to die. And they all had to be vaccinated.

In December, vaccinations began for certain priority groups such as nursing home residents, first responders and health care providers.

On February 11, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced that Detroit residents 18 years of age and older with documented mental or developmental disabilities and home health care providers are eligible to be vaccinated in the city. He mentioned three other states – Ohio, Maryland, and New Mexico – that offered priority vaccines to people with disabilities at the time.

Macomb County followed on March 12, allowing anyone aged 16 and over with a disability, their family caregivers and guardians to qualify for a vaccine.

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According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 1.4 million people with disabilities in Michigan, according to Nolish estimates.

In March 2020, the World Health Organization released a report indicating that people with disabilities may be more affected by the coronavirus. Even so, Nolish said, “We haven’t seen any changes at the most important times” made by local, regional, or state governments in the United States.

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“And right now, to be honest, we don’t know how many people in Detroit, in Wayne County, in the state of Michigan, or in this country with disabilities have died from this disease. And that’s a big problem. It’s a big one Problem, “he said.

“And so at every level there is a data gap that we and other organizations like us that fight for disability and disability rights are trying to capture. We’re trying to capture the data. We’re trying to understand what we can do now and how The loss was bad. “

Nolish said many people with disabilities faced and continue to struggle before the pandemic. There are now more people with disabilities due to the virus.

He said the COVID-19 vaccine, including the vaccine for people at home, “offers hope and the opportunity for better access.”

Contact Christina Hall: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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