As the vaccine for Covid-19 becomes increasingly available to people with disabilities, their families, and caregivers we are all faced with a deeply personal decision about vaccination. The question many are asking is “Is it worth it?” As you assess the efficacy of vaccination I encourage you to consider some recent data.
On March 5th
the New England Journal of Medicine released a report
titled “The Devastating Impact of Covid-19 on Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in the United States.” Based on a study of almost 65,000,000 patients across 547 health care organizations between January 2019 and November 2020, they found that having an intellectual disability was the strongest independent risk factor for presenting with a Covid-19 diagnosis and the strongest independent risk factor other than age for Covid-19 mortality. See the chart on the left below.
“The chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher for those with intellectual disability than they are for people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or lung disease,” said Jonathan Gleason, chief quality officer at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and the lead author of the study. The study found that people with intellectual disabilities were 2.5 times more likely than others to be diagnosed with COVID-19, 2.7 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 5.9 times more likely to die as a result of the virus.
With that backdrop I was excited to see the results
coming from Tennessee. “It’s clear that this decision saved lives,” Commissioner Brad Turner said about Tennessee's efforts to prioritize Tennesseans with disabilities in vaccine distribution. The number of new COVID infections in both persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and staff have decreased more than 80 percent from December 2020 to February 2021.” See the chart on the right below.