NCD makes recommendations to National Governors Association on COVID-19 vaccination equity

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Feb. 10, 2021

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) has sent recommendations to the National Governors Association (NGA) regarding COVID-19 vaccine access for people with disabilities.

In a letter to New York Governor and NGA Chairman Andrew Cuomo, NCD Chairman Andrés Gallegos addressed the need for States to prioritize people with disabilities as a matter of equity.

“As you are aware, persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the COVID–19 virus,” wrote Chairman Gallegos, “particularly persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) and persons with disabilities with underlying health conditions (e.g., chronic lung disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, a serious heart condition, or a weakened immune system), that place them at risk for contracting the virus, higher risk for hospitalization once the virus is contracted, and with a greater risk of dying from the virus.”

The Chairman pointed out that 29 states have deprioritized people with disabilities, despite CDC and the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine framework proposing persons of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk be included in Phase 1b or Phase 1c category, including those with developmental disabilities.

“As the distribution and allocations of the vaccine continues, we urge you to emphasize to governors and health departments that more equitable frameworks must be determined that incorporates persons with disabilities with I/DD, those with limited mobility, and those with underlying health conditions in priority groups, regardless of their setting,” wrote the Chairman.

He also highlighted that persons with disabilities have largely been ignored in COVID-19 data surveillance, specifically rates of infection, hospitalizations, outcomes, and deaths.

“Data is critical to informing the public health response and can also assist in identifying which segments of the population with disabilities within a state to specifically target and prioritize for purposes of administration of the vaccine.” wrote the Chairman.

Such data is considered important evidence to support community-level advocacy and intervention efforts.

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association is a bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors. including the leaders of 55 states, territories, and commonwealths.

Read the full letter at NCD.gov.