Group Houses ‘Elbowed Apart’ As COVID-19 Doses Shifted To Mass-Vaccination Websites

ALBANY, NY – Thousands of people with disabilities living in group homes have had their vaccination rates for coronavirus decreased as the state shifted doses to mass vaccination sites and increased the number of people eligible for the shots.

Around 30 percent of the native population of the capital region – around 11,000 people with disabilities and employees who look after them in a region with 10 counties – were vaccinated in the first five weeks of the rollout. However, when the state shifted to mass vaccination sites, including one at the University of Albany, those sites received in some cases 50 percent or more of a region’s doses.

This strategy has affected those who were in the first or 1A phase of vaccinations, as the shift was made in conjunction with the addition of a second phase of eligible individuals, which includes people 65 and over as well as teachers, police officers, grocers and convenience stores. Employees include shop workers and other key workers.

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In a letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in mid-January, three group leaders representing the interests of people with disabilities – the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, the New York Disabled Industry, and the ARC New York – warned the government that their very vulnerable populations were pushed aside as hospital hub systems originally set up to vaccinate 1A groups received little or no vaccine.

“With the opening of the state vaccination centers and the redistribution of the vaccine to these centers, this has reduced the vaccine supply and availability for the 1A population to such an extent that the appointments in the second half of last week and over the weekend were canceled,” he says it in the group’s letter, “Not only is this an unintended consequence of concern for those in the priority population who have not yet received the vaccine, but it is also likely to result in 1A-Designates having significant difficulty receiving the.” to achieve second vaccine dose on time. “

On January 15, the Albany Centers for Disability Assistance canceled a vaccination clinic that was intended for 170 people with disabilities and their carers.

In the past few days, Cuomo has urged the county health departments, hospitals, pharmacies and other vaccine administrators not to make appointments until they have received their assigned doses for the week. That postponement came when he accused the federal government of not sending enough doses to New York, where vaccination dates have lagged behind due to the low supply and stretch into late spring.

“We were grateful that people with developmental disabilities and group home workers were accepted into 1A, but now they have been pushed aside,” said Michael Seereiter, president and CEO of the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, which represents nonprofits that support people with developmental disabilities across the state. “It’s an unintended but grave consequence that is preventing at-risk and at-risk New Yorkers from being vaccinated.”

Group homes for people with disabilities were hit by the virus during the pandemic. Cuomo included them in the first phase as it can also be difficult for staff to control and guide members of this population who may not understand social distancing and the need to wear a mask.

One briefed on the matter said that using the hospital hub system to vaccinate this population, including distributing vaccines to medical workers in their facilities, would be ideal as many of these people would have access to public transport but not in would be able to drive to a mass vaccination site like the one at the University of Albany.

The hub system, which was heavily criticized by district leaders who wanted their local health departments to vaccinate their populations, including the elderly and people with disabilities, has been lauded by advocates of disabilities. It provided “health justice for people who would not always receive health justice,” the person said.

“We made this group a priority from the start,” said Gareth Rhodes, deputy superintendent of the Treasury who leads vaccination rollout for the governor’s coronavirus task force. “It’s not like we’ve stopped prioritizing them. You still have priority. We just don’t have enough vaccine to get around. “

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