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Letter to the CDC Seeks Equal Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization

At least 17 groups advocating for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) penned a letter on February 22, 2021, to leadership at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The groups strongly encouraged the CDC to include all those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities in COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. Direct Care Innovations supports these advocacy groups’ efforts and the organizations and individuals they, like us, serve. 

Letter to the CDC Seeks Equal Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Prioritization
CDC Guidance Results in Unequal Access 

The American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry (AADMD) consists of health professionals in various disciplines. Correspondingly, its members work together to improve healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To that end, they often pursue their goals through advocacy. In that pursuit, the AADMD crafted the letter, signed by 17 of its member groups, to the CDC. Among the 17 AADMD member groups to sign the letter are:

  • National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Center For Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities
  • National Down Syndrome Society
  • National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals
  • Autism Society of America
The letter asserts that medical consensus is that those living with developmental disabilities are at higher risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death than the rest of the population. To be clear, the collective letter acknowledges that the CDC currently includes those with IDD in its prioritization of long-term care residential facilities. However, it notes that many individuals with IDD live in small group homes, with family members, or independently. In these living situations, people with IDD are omitted from the CDC guidelines altogether. 

States Could Benefit from a Centralized Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization

Notably, individual states have the authority to issue their own guidance and vaccine prioritization schedules. In fact, some states do include those with IDD living in private homes or small group homes in their prioritization guidelines. However, states generally utilize CDC recommendations to direct their own policy efforts. Either way, CDC recommendations influence state guidelines and serve as an example to the states. 

Without the CDC providing a centralized framework that prioritizes those with IDD in all living environments, some states also neglect to address the issue. For example, some states that include those with IDD in their local vaccine prioritization schedules mirror the CDC policy by focusing exclusively on long-term care facilities. 

Do You Know Where Your State Stands?

Interestingly, Johns Hopkins launched a vaccine prioritization dashboard that tracks five categories across 50 states. The table updates weekly and provides insight into vaccine eligibility for IDD clients in varying settings and their caregivers. Until the CDC updates its COVID-19 vaccine prioritization guidance, the dashboard is a helpful tool for viewing state prioritization schedules. 

About DCI

DCI is passionate about people living with disabilities, and the organizations and managed healthcare systems that advocate for and serve them. We deliver technology solutions that streamline your administrative efforts, such as authorization management and EVV in all 50 states. Call us today at (480) 295-3307 or request a free demo to learn more.

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