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Why Prioritizing Our Special Needs Family Members for Covid Vaccination is key

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Modern Healthcare in a post Covid 19 pandemic mandates awareness that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities. A recent finding by Temple’s Institute on Disabilities.

  • People with such Autism Spectrum or Down’s Syndrome disorders, account for one in fifty Americans
  • Autism Spectrum and Downs Symdrome patients are 2½ times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the wider U.S. population, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis of statistical data from 12 states.

Individuals with Intellectual or developmental disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.. It is important that any person living with any developmental or learning disorder be immediately included with the first-priority phase to ensure the safety of those with a high risk of infection.

Sharon Alexander for the Sun Sentinel titled: “ Individuals with special needs must also be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine


“This is a very stark reminder of the obligation we have as a society to ensure that the most vulnerable among us during this pandemic are safe, but that stopgap funding is essentially gone, and we need more support.” 

Sally Gould-Taylor, interim executive director at Temple’s Institute on Disabilities in the College of Education and Human Development

The COVID-19 pandemic has greater risk and implications for Autistic Spectrum patients. Even more so for those who depend upon long-term supports and services (LTSS), not just seniors but children, and adult people with disabilities & chronic illnesses.  Insufficient focus has been given to supporting those with special needs and Autism Spectrum including younger patients with disabilities that require long-term services and supports living outside of nursing homes.

Who are the people that we want to make sure we do NOT leave behind? They may be younger people with autism or Down’s syndrome living in adult care centers. They may be people with autism or Down’s syndrome living in their family homes. Prioritization of COVID Immunization largely depends upon the means of the family, and their awareness of the need for advocacy for early immunization of this overlooked vulnerable group of people. Where the patient is reliant on Medicaid as the primary payer, advocacy on their behalf is more necessary.

Policy AWARE shared some important policy measures for COVID Support and treatment to be aware of:

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