Some disability rights advocates describe Michigan’s expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as insufficient.
Starting Monday, people aged 16 and over with disabilities or certain illnesses will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Breannah Alexander Oppenhuizen is a member of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. She said little had been done at the state level to ensure timely access to the vaccine for these vulnerable communities.
“Even if we try to register people in the places where we can actually register them, they won’t get appointments until the appointment slots in May and June,” she said.
Alexander Oppenhuizen said it had also been difficult to register people with disabilities and those who speak a language other than English for a vaccination place.
“So that we are now a year after the COVID virus was first discovered and still that far behind in planning the most vulnerable communities,” she said. “It’s amazing and something we need to discuss further.”
The Michigan Disablity Rights Coalition has been raising these concerns to the state since December.
“Little is planned and, ultimately, trade is prioritized in the distribution of vaccines and people,” said Alexander Oppenhuizen.
If the trade hadn’t been prioritized, Alexander Oppenhuizen would have had more state plans to address issues like access to transportation to a vaccine appointment for people with disabilities.
“So there was concern about people using Spec-Tran to get there [their] Appointment, will I have problems getting to my appointment on time? “she said.” There are small, localized problems that could have been better dealt with if they had been heard by the institutions that are able to prioritize. “
Alexander Oppenhuizen said that decentralizing vaccine distribution from planning to vaccine administration poses a number of challenges for communities susceptible to the virus.