#AdvocacyMatters: A Shot of Hope

January 22, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters

As we near the anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival and all the upheaval to our sense of normalcy that followed, seemingly every day we are taking steps forward together. Since the arrival of effective, approved vaccines at the end of last year, the monumental task of production, distribution, and prioritization has been underway. Largely left to formulate their own plans, various states have taken very different paths towards getting these vaccines out and into the communities who so desperately need them. Arguably the most important step in moving towards a post-pandemic society, a fair and equitable rollout of the vaccine is of critical importance.

As outlined by Governor DeWine last week, Ohio has expanded vaccine access to those aged 80 or older starting January 19th, and will again expand that access to Ohioans 75 years old or older as well as those with intellectual or developmental disabilities who also have one of a number of conditions on January 25th. If you have questions about your vaccine access, you should contact your county’s board of developmental disabilities. You can also contact the Disability Rights Ohio intake department at 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181. With each new week, more groups of Ohioans will find themselves able to receive their vaccine.

Fair access to these vaccines didn’t happen on its own. In December, DRO partnered with 8 other organizations in advocating to the Ohio Department of Health in order to prioritize vaccine availability for all those congregate care settings, people who receive home and community-based services, and all adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While not all of our recommendations were accepted by the state, many of those in our communities at highest risk of contracting the virus were prioritized in the latest rollout. In the two earliest phases of Ohio’s distribution – phase 1A and phase 1B – many people with disabilities have been given an opportunity to receive their vaccine. While it’s obvious there is still much work to be done for this protection to reach all the communities we serve, we are relieved to see things moving in the right direction.

As we find ourselves at what we hope is the beginning of the end, we will not lose sight of our responsibility. We won’t stop advocating until our communities are protected. We won’t stop pushing until Ohio’s students with disabilities are receiving the free and equitable education to which they’re entitled. Most importantly, we won’t stop fighting until our vision of a truly equal society is reached. Because when the communities we serve are threatened, #AdvocacyMatters.

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