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Vaccine Priorities, Precautions for People with Disabilities


Tuesday, December 22, 2020   

NEW YORK -- With coronavirus vaccines now being distributed, advocates for people living with disabilities are stressing the importance of knowing if they are at increased risk of COVID-19.

People with certain disabilities or on medications with particular side effects are more vulnerable to the effects of the virus, and people in nursing homes or group housing are more likely to become infected. These and other considerations will determine the priorities for vaccine distribution.

Susan Dooha, executive director at the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information online about who is at greatest risk.

"There's a whole list of chronic or serious health conditions that would put them in the higher-risk category that puts them higher up to receive vaccination," Dooha said.

Information about COVID-19 vaccines and conditions that put people at increased risk from the coronavirus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Dooha cautions that some people with specific health conditions may be advised not to get the vaccinations currently available, so it's important to find out if they could be at risk of an adverse reaction.

"People should speak with their own health practitioner and ask, based on their own health status and medications they're taking, whether the vaccine is right for them at present," she said.

Conditions that warrant consulting a health care provider include allergic reactions to any of the ingredients of the COVID vaccine or to other vaccines.

Dooha pointed out that people living in nursing homes or other care facilities in New York can get help if their facilities fail to provide adequate information or explanations of vaccine risks and protocols.

"You can call the New York Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program if you believe perhaps that your right to be educated and to consent freely is being violated," she said.

Listings of long-term care ombudsmen by county are available through the New York Office for the Aging website, at

Disclosure: Center for Independence of the Disabled New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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