Saturday, December 4

Many Disabled People Have Failed Vaccine Launch, Supporters Say

It is feared that a large part of the population will be disappointed when it comes to accessing the Covid-19 vaccine.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 08/25/2021: Officials are seen at a vaccination center in Christchurch.

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The health authorities are accused of not having access to the homes of thousands of disabled people who cannot move easily.

Approximately 11,000 people receiving Disability Services and Supports have been fully vaccinated.

That represents about 40 percent of those who qualify for support.

Colleen Brown of Disability Connect said there was a gap in understanding between those who distributed the vaccine and those who received it.

“I delivered a food package to a family, the mother has two children on the autism spectrum. Two,” Brown said.

“And they’re so anxious they can’t leave the house. So he definitely needs someone to go and vaccinate the family.”

While a relatively small number receive disability assistance, more than one million New Zealanders are currently considered disabled.

The recent experience of a colleague in Ōtara, south Auckland, highlighted the number of disabled people that authorities may be unaware of, Brown said.

“He knocked on the door of a family that he knows very well, to feed them.

“But she never knew, and they had never disclosed, that they had a disabled relative.

“And he is someone who has been working in the community for 14 years.

“So sitting underneath, a lot of that is trust. People have to trust who’s getting the messages, who’s going to take care of them.”

Brown wanted the Ministry of Health to provide community health care providers with details of people with disabilities who had not yet been vaccinated so that people could meet them wherever they were.

Brown understood that the nationwide rollout of the vaccine is an unprecedented undertaking in New Zealand and that some in the disabled community might be difficult to access.

“I’m talking about the queue here, those 30 percent disabled people who are very hard to find.

“It’s a matter of cutting and cutting until you really get the key information you need, so that you can address the need.”

An agile approach would allow community groups to offer comprehensive support to people as they vaccinate them, Brown said.

“The drive-through option – I mean, can you imagine trying to put four kids in a car and yourself and, let’s say, three of you can get vaccinated in the car. That’s great.

“And we can put a packet of food you need in your boot at the same time, while you wait after the vaccination, isn’t that much better?”

Taikura Trust was trying to solve the problems faced by people with disabilities in Auckland, such as transportation and communications.

Their vaccination campaign, Tiaki, offered free transportation to and from vaccination sites.

Trust Chairman Barry de Geest, New Zealand’s oldest thalidomide survivor, said that given his medical history, he was initially hesitant to get vaccinated, but now he’s not backing down.

“I have type 2 diabetes, I have high blood pressure, I have cirrhosis of the liver, and yet for me, it was a no-brainer,” de Geest said.

“So, I hope other people say, ‘Well, he has a lot going on, so do we, let’s do it.’

It is important for people with a disability, who were disproportionately affected by Covid-19, to protect themselves, he said.

“What I have seen from abroad is that often when hospitals are overwhelmed, people like me are not left out, but they take us second to the hospital with other things that we may have, because hospitals are completely overwhelm with Covid cases.

“So for me, I want my colleagues in New Zealand to not have that, and by being vaccinated they have a greater chance of being able to get on with their lives.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said it had set aside $ 2 million for community-based disability groups to boost the launch of the vaccine.

He said that each DHB was holding vaccination events for disabled people and in specialized schools, where people felt more comfortable.

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