It’s scary. People with intellectual and developmental
disabilities (I/DD) are at the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19. Some with
I/DD in group homes were eligible for vaccination alongside nursing facilities,
depending on the state, while those of us with our loved ones at home wait and
In January, COVID-19 vaccination expanded in some states to
include people 65 and over. Many vaccination clinics in group homes were
cancelled and postponed to free up resources for expanded public vaccination.
Yet again people with I/DD were elbowed aside, never mind they’re at the
greatest risk of dying from this pandemic.
A silver lining – Maybe
When vaccinations were expanded in some states, the
- People 65 and over
- People 64 and under with an underlying health
Under this expansion, your loved one qualifies because of
their underlying health condition. They’ll be able to get a vaccination more
quickly than expected – Maybe.
- Not all states have adopted the expanded vaccination
- Some states have prioritized age and not
underlying health conditions
- Most every state is struggling with vaccine
How to get your loved one in line for vaccination
Contact your doctor for their recommendation on how to get
your loved one vaccinated in your community. If vaccinations are available for
underlying health conditions, they may refer you to a local pharmacy, health
department, area vaccination clinic or they may be equipped to administer a
vaccination in the office.
In all cases, you will likely need to schedule an
appointment and there may be a waiting list.
Prepare for the appointment
When your appointed time arrives, you will need to
bring/provide some information and records. Come prepared with
- Insurance card or a copy (front and back)
- Prescription drug card or a copy (also front and
- Records and information to complete a vaccination
consent form/health screening document
When your loved one is vaccinated, they (you) will receive a
vaccination card or record. Retain this record and bring it along for the
second dose of the vaccine. It will help you and health care personnel track
the vaccination received, date of the first dose and a return time for the
second dose. It can also serve as proof of vaccination, if needed. Note that
some vaccination programs will retain your first-round vaccination record, so
they have it available for your second vaccine.
Pro Tip: As a caregiver of a person with I/DD, ask
when you check with your loved one’s doctor and again at the vaccination clinic
to see if they will vaccinate you at the same time. Because the vaccine is
thawed for use, clinics sometimes have more vaccine than they need and will
vaccinate others before disposing of valuable doses.
Stay safe during the vaccination process
There have been reports of long lines at some clinics.
Consider bringing a snack and something to occupy your loved one while waiting.
Wear your mask and stay at least six feet from others while
inside and in line for vaccinations.
You will be asked to wait at the location for 15 to 30
minutes following your loved one’s vaccination in case of a reaction to the
vaccine. (This is rare.)
It will take some time to build immunity after completing
the vaccination process. You and your loved one should continue to wear a mask,
social distance and wash hands to help prevent contracting the virus before
building immunity with the vaccine.
Help to explain COVID-19 vaccination to your loved one
Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is new for all of us, but
also similar to other vaccinations. If you need help explaining the vaccination
process to your loved one, we’ve found that the following social stories do a
for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities: Getting a COVID-19
Vaccination Social Story
Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers: Getting a COVID-19
Vaccine Social Story