With Covid-19 proving to be deadlier to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) than just about any other group, it is little wonder that they, their families, and caregivers are eager to sort fact from fiction when it comes to vaccines.
A new website — Get Out the Vaccine — is designed to help them do just that. Created by the National Association of Councils on Development Disabilities, it offers articles, webinars, and testimonials on the importance of inoculation, types of vaccine, where to get your shots, and what to expect once you’ve got them. The site walks you through the vaccine approval process, explains how mRNA Covid-19 vaccines work, examines the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has inflicted on racial minorities, and explores myriad other issues surrounding vaccines.
People with I/DD are more likely to contract Covid-19 and, with the exception of the elderly, are at greater risk of dying from it than any other group once admitted to a hospital, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study of nearly 65 million patients covered by 547 health care organizations. They were six times as likely to die from Covid compared to the rest of the population.
Another study, conducted in New York State last year, found that people with I/DD living in group homes are four times at risk of getting Covid-19 and nearly twice as likely to die from it compared to the general populace.
Half of the U.S. population had received a vaccination by mid-April, and federal and state officials are drawing up programs and strategies to encourage the other half to get immunized. But this latter group poses a particular challenge, containing as it does significant numbers of vaccine skeptics influenced by misinformation gleaned from social media and other unreliable sources.
Good information is particularly crucial to people with I/DD and those who care for them, given their greater susceptibility to infection and death. “For many people with disabilities, including I/DD, they and their families or caregivers may be feeling anxious or unsure about the vaccine and its safety,” the NACDD website says. “Vaccine decisions should be based on facts and trusted sources.”
Misinformation about the vaccine on social media alarmed Elizabeth Joseph, a board member of the Alaska Developmental Disabilities Council, prompting her to turn to physicians that she trusted.
“I learned how safe it was, and asking questions really helped me a lot,” she noted, in comments recorded on the Get Out the Vaccine website. “I grew more confident and comfortable with receiving the vaccination. It was my choice to receive it.”
The National Association of Councils on Development Disabilities and its 56 member councils promote self-determination, integration, and inclusion among people with developmental disabilities through a broad range of programs.