BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Experts are stressing the need now to get those with intellectual and developmental disabilities vaccinated against the coronavirus.
They say the group is a vulnerable population and some can't social distance.
People with developmental and intellectual disabilities have really had their lives disrupted during this pandemic. They're also at higher risk of death from COVID-19 and now advocates want to make sure they are not forgotten about as more doses of the vaccine rollout.
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed life for everyone, but people with intellectual and development disabilities are some of the most severely impacted groups.
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"The consequences of all of the mitigating steps necessary steps necessary to try to control the pandemic disproportionately affects the lives of people with those conditions," Brad Schlaggar, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute, said.
Some can't go to the programs that they used to, disrupting their routines.
"I think there is real concern about what's going on right now in terms of all the complexities of life right now that there will be enduring effects," Schlaggar said.
Schlaggar is among those advocating for people with these disabilities to make sure they're vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Estimates show the group is three times more likely than average to die of the virus. And many are diagnosed with other conditions.
"We work with a population that also that often has many comorbidities that go along with an intellectual disability," said Gregory Miller, President and CEO Penn-Mar Human Services.
And some can't social distance.
"Many of the folks that we support we provide you know very hands-on care for them," Miller said," which you can't do from six feet apart."
That puts them and those that care for them at a higher risk than many of getting COVID.
While they are slated to receive doses in Maryland's upcoming vaccine priority groups, advocates want to get out their message now so they aren't forgotten about. People with disabilities are not prioritized above others with co-morbidities, Schlaggar said.
"My understanding is that all such individuals are considered in Phase 2 [of Maryland's vaccine distribution plan]," he wrote in a follow-up e-mail to WJZ.
And advocates say they'll be working with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to get people with these disabilities to try to make it easier for them and those that care for them.
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