GO! Bulletin
ACTION ALERT: Help Influence Vaccine Distribution Practices by Sharing Your Experiences

Oregon created a COVID vaccine distribution prioritization plan that centers on equity, and includes the DD Community in Phase 1a because science shows people with DD are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 and having dire outcomes when they do.  Earlier this month, the Governor announced that all groups included within Phase 1a are now eligible for the vaccine. 
PHASE 1a INCLUDES:
  • people 16+ with DD who live in their own, family, foster or group homes;
  • their unpaid supporters; and 
  • paid support (personal support workers, direct support professionals). 
  • Phase 1a also includes parents (and foster parents) of medically fragile children.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is the agency that sets health
care policy in Oregon - which includes the vaccine roll-out. OHA’s Phase 1a priority document, pages 6 and 8 include the
information about the DD community in Phase 1a. This can be confusing, so the Office of Developmental Disability Services (ODDS) created a fact sheet. OHA also presented the DD Community with the following slide during our Dec. 21 listening session.
With the news that Phase 1a can get the vaccine, the Oregon DD
Community did what we do best: we mobilized to connect thousands of people in the DD service system with vaccine resources. We understand that, in many areas of the state, those resources simply do not exist yet or are very limited. This leaves thousands of people with DD and
their families who trying to access the vaccine, unsure of how to do so and worried by their continued vulnerability to this viral pandemic, as well as their Personal Agents and Service Coordinators who are frustrated by the systemic inequities.

We want to acknowledge all the efforts that the state agency leaders at OHA and ODDS have made in consideration for Oregonians with developmental disabilities. It is clear that our state agency partners care deeply and are intentionally working to ensure equity and access, and as we continue to collaborate to find what will work to accommodate people with disabilities, we are hopeful that it will improve processes for everyone in our state. 

In order for our state decision-makers to know how to make the vaccination process work for the DD community, we need them to know the experience of people in the DD community as they try to access their vaccine. We have a list of people below who need to hear from you. So... Advocate now!

How to tell your COVID Vaccine Story: 
  • Introduce yourself. Your name and the city where you live.
  • Note that according to OHA, people with DD and those who support them are in Phase 1a for the COVID vaccine distribution. 
  • Explain your experience attempting to get the vaccine:
  • Have you been turned away? 
  • Can you find a place to get the vaccine?
  • Have you heard where vaccination clinics are in your area?
  • Are appointment slots available, or were they full when you heard about it?
  • Are mass vaccination clinics in your area advertised for people with DD?
  • Is the registration for mass vaccination clinics accessible for you? Most registration is only online. Is that accessible for you?
  • Will mass vaccination clinics work for you? 

Give a solution for the problem (this is your “ask”). Tell policy
makers that the developmental disability community needs:
  • Reserved appointment slots: Appointments at various times at vaccination clinics reserved for the DD community. Allow time for case managers to register a number of people with DD for clinics since not everyone uses the internet or email.
  • Clinics also must have ADA accommodations in place to allow people with disabilities to successfully access clinics.
  • Accessible registration processes that can accommodate people who do not have email or internet access.
  • Many options to get the vaccine. Work with the DD community to create multiple ways for people in the DD community to get the vaccine now. Mass vaccination clinics are not accessible for some people because of higher risk of COVID infection or behavior support needs. 
  • DD Community vaccine events with plenty of advance notice for various dates and times so arrangements can be made for people to get to the events. 
  • Assign regional emergency managers from OHA to interface and work directly with the DD community and local resources to ensure the promise of a vaccine for the DD community is upheld.  
  • Achieving equity means doing things differently—how can things be done differently to meet your needs? Be specific.

Please consider sending a short email message to the following people (there is a cut/paste list at the end of this bulletin to make it easy for you to email): 
  • Linda Roman, Governor Kate Brown’s Healthcare Advisor
  • Rachael Banks, Public Health Director, Oregon Health Authority
  • Leann Johnson, Director of Office of Equity and Inclusion, Oregon Health Authority
  • Kristen Darmody, COVID Response and Recovery Unit, Oregon Health Authority
  • Jana McLellan, COVID Response and Recovery Unit, Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Human Services
  • Rep. Maxine Dexter – Chair, House Health Care Committee on COVID-19
  • Rep. Rachel Pruzak – Chair, House Health Care Committee
  • Rep. Anna Williams – Chair, House Human Services Committee
  • Sen. Deb Patterson – Chair, Senate Health Care Committee
  • Sen. Sara Gelser – Chair, Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery Committee
  • The Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee
  • Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition

 
Lastly, you can also email your own legislators with the same email. Every Oregonian is represented by a Senator and a Representative. If you do not already know who represents you, follow this link and enter your address to find out!

Now, let's GO! Share your COVID Vaccine Experience and offer ideas to help more people get access to their vaccines.
About the Oregon DD Coalition
The Oregon DD Coalition advocates for DD services on behalf of and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and support organizations in Oregon.

We influence DD service and community support systems and legislation by communicating with a common, consistent voice – creating better opportunities for Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Interested in signing up for the GO! Bulletin or
becoming a member of the Oregon DD Coalition?
 1775 32nd Place, Suite F, Salem OR 97301