coronavirus

People With Disabilities Feel Abandoned by State Leaders on Vaccine Rollout

With the new strain now taking hold in California, some worry time is running out for a vulnerable part of the population.

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Speaking by putting toe to tablet, Tim Jin says he feels abandoned by state leaders who have put priorities on age and employment for the COVID vaccine.

"Why would a healthy 50-something get the vaccine before me?" he wrote. "A 45-year-old man with significant disabilities? Man, that's pretty heartless but it also makes no sense from a scientific perspective."

Judy Mark, the president of Disability Voices United, says California is falling behind what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it should be doing for people with severe developmental disabilities.

"The CDC has very specific recommendations on that, listing very specific disabilities," Mark said.

With the new strain now taking hold in California, she worries time is running out for a very vulnerable part of the population.

"The problem is people with disabilities are more likely to die than a healthy 60 year old," she said.

Dr. Jerry Abraham, who was overseeing a vaccine site at Kedren Health in South Los Angeles last week, said he believes the state's current plan is working to get the most people vaccinated in the quickest way possible.

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"It's a very complicated question and it's a very complicated answer," he said. "They are trusting health care providers and physicians to make these calls. It's not punitive. We're doing the best we can with a very limited supply of life-saving medicine." 

But Jin is afraid.

"We shouldn't have to fight this hard to stay alive. Due to my fears of COVID, there are days I won't even step outside to get fresh air." 

While his caregivers have been allowed to get the vaccine, he doesn't believe it's enough to protect people like him.

"I know Gov. Newsom thinks this will protect us. But you know what will help more? Actually give us the vaccine."

The California Department of Public Health did not respond to a request for comment.

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