COVID-19 vaccinations for the disabled

Dan Levy
Updated: March 07, 2021 04:00 PM
Created: March 06, 2021 11:55 PM

ALBANY - Uncertainty tends to create was  a certain level of unwanted anxiety.

"I was a little bit nervous," said Tyler Dyleo, of Moreau.

By the time Tyler arrived at the SEFCU Center in Albany Saturday morning, he truly didn't know what to expect, but he knew, and his mother knew, getting a Covid vaccination would make his life better and a lot safer.

"It's kind of important," said Jeana Reed, Tyler's mother, "We haven't been able to do much in the past year plus due to Covid, so we're hoping this gives us the opportunity to start getting something back with our life again."

One of the many things we've learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that roughly 2,000 of the Capital Region residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus are members of the disability community.

182 deaths have been individuals who are developmentally or intellectually disabled.

Some 250 Capital Region residents showed up at a special vaccination clinic, all of them intellectually or developmentally disabled, and that was reason enough to move them up the priority list to receive a shot in the arm.

"The intellectually and developmentally disabled population thrives on having a routine," notes Maureen O'Brien, President and CEO  of the New York State Industries for the Disabled. "Knowing what their day is going to be like, knowing what they're going to do throughout the course of the day, and Covid has changed all of that."

For that reason alone, Covid vaccinations are considered a godsend for members of the disabled community. Beyond that, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy (D - Albany) says it's the right thing, and the fair thing to do.

"We are finally going to get away from the Hunger Games because we have been through, in my view, the worst of Hunger Games in my professional life with regard to who was getting the vaccine and who wasn't."

In other words, people with disabilities, older people, and people with preexisting conditions are the ones who've had a tougher time with Covid, and Saturday's clinic serves as a reminder they need to remain a top priority.

"Seeing the smiling faces of people getting a shot -- you don't associate people getting a shot with smiling -- but people are being put on a path to being able to move past this and it's really gratifying to see it," said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

In New York State, it is estimated that people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in group home settings were more than twice as likely to succumb to the coronavirus.

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