By Michael Rock:

As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine commences, questions regarding when and how to immunize those with intellectual and developmental disabilities have emerged.

The CDC plans to prioritize who gets the vaccine by risk. While seniors, essential workers, and those with immunocompromising conditions are at the top of the list, it is unclear which tier those with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be in. Due to the community’s higher fatality rate, the National Council on Disability has called for the CDC to ensure they are vaccinated sooner than later.

New Jersey has emerged as one of many states that has not been able to clearly decide when this vulnerable group will get the vaccine. Lack of clarity and supply and demand issues have thus far rendered state leadership unable to announce when they will get it with certainty.

In contrast, Oregon has declared that group home and assisted living facility residents and the direct support professionals who care for them will be in the second group to be vaccinated.

Regardless, advocates are eager for people with disabilities to be me vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as possible, evidenced by a recent statement led by the Autism Society of America and co-signed by twenty other groups.

Despite these realities, continued pressure must be applied to ensure people with developmental and intellectual disabilities get the vaccines quickly, safely, and efficiently.

Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.