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Giving disabled people vaccine priority a good start, but more is needed | READER COMMENTARY

Nadina Funk, 63, right, caretaker of her son James Funk, 30, left, who has an intellectual disability, is frustrated that she is not able to get him to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of shortage of the vaccine. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun).
Nadina Funk, 63, right, caretaker of her son James Funk, 30, left, who has an intellectual disability, is frustrated that she is not able to get him to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of shortage of the vaccine. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun). (Kenneth K. Lam)

Kudos to the state of Maryland for making Americans with disabilities a priority when it comes to giving out the COVID-19 vaccination, but that’s only part of the solution to meeting the needs of a community that has become isolated during the virus (”They are prioritized for COVID vaccines. But some Marylanders with disabilities still facing access hurdles,” March 3).

Often, members of the disability community don’t have access to means to get the information necessary to make an appointment for a shot or the ability to go to a vaccination site. Every day, National Telecommuting Institute, a nonprofit organization, helps Americans with disabilities find jobs, and we know about the obstacles they face. Anything that can be done to make accessibility a priority is welcome.

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That’s why we support and encourage the adoption of two plans proposed by medical and disability officials. Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County’s health officer, is correct in suggesting local health departments be used to service the disability community, and deploying mobile response teams to go into their homes. Dr. Rossman’s team has set up a separate, smaller clinic for adults with disabilities and trained employees to “meet people where they are” even if that means vaccinating some in their cars. She also has deployed a mobile response team to visit and vaccinate those who are home-bound. We also agree with the efforts of Rachel London, executive director of Maryland Developmental Disabilities, to encourage the state to provide user-friendly websites to prevent large amounts of time looking for information and registration.

In these times of COVID-19, we must not lose sight of protecting Americans with disabilities and must continue to explore ideas to make the vaccine more accessible.

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Alan Hubbard, Boston, Massachusetts

The writer is chief operating officer of the non-profit National Telecommuting Institute.

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