COVID-19 poses an extreme risk to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. COVID-19 Vaccines are available, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve to be prioritized at a level commensurate with their risk:
We can protect our loved ones with I/DD, but we need you! An alliance of disability advocacy groups have contacted AzDHS and other groups and asked them to prioritize people with I/DD to receive the COVID vaccine. So far, those requests have not created the urgent change necessary. The first letter was sent when more than 150 people a day are dying from COVID in Arizona and hospitals are once again contemplating crisis care. Even though community spread has decreased recently, the need remains. Many people with disabilities are unable to access critical therapy, medical care, or other services without risking infection and the disproportionate affects COVID-19 infection means for people with disabilities.
We are urging the AzDHS to adopt a simple solution: allow all DDD members (or their primary caretaker) to have immediate access to schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine. This could be built-in to the current AzDHS COVID vaccine portal. Indeed, the current portal AzDHS created to allow Arizonans to schedule a vaccination already asks for the member's AHCCCS number. Currently, it is unclear whether people with I/DD would be classified in Phase 1C or 2, but given their level of risk, they should be categorized in 1B.
We can change the trajectory of COVID-19 in Arizona, and prevent our loved ones from becoming another statistic! We need as many people as possible to call, write, email, and tweet the agencies below and demand that DDD members, some of the most vulnerable members in our society, become a priority for vaccination. We have provided contact information and a sample letter or script below to help you!
150 N. 18th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Find your elected representatives.
DES DDD Customer Service Center
Toll Free (844) 770-9500
Advocacy messages are always best when they come from the heart and include your own personal touches. In any advocacy message, it's also important to:
Here's an example letter you can use as a framework for a letter or email, or use as a script on a phone call. Of course, if you can include any details about your loved one, that would amplify the impact of the message. And if you are so inclined, feel free to write your own message. Change will come if we work together to send a loud and clear message: prioritize people with I/DD for vaccination.
I love someone/am someone with a disability. I know that people with disabilities are at significantly higher risk for COVID-19 infection. And they are significantly more likely to die from COVID. Meanwhile, the infection in Arizona is spreading like wildfire.
I am hopeful, because there is a vaccine available. However, my loved one is at risk every day they go unvaccinated, and are not yet in a priority group that enables them to become vaccinated now, or even sign up for an appointment. Because the AZDHS portal already requests AHCCCS information, it would be easy to allow DDD members to be eligible to sign up for a vaccine right now. This could save the life of <insert name>, the person that I love.
<Relationship to DDD Member>
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