Watch CBS News

Advocates Push For Vaccine Accessibility For Disabled Residents

(CBS DETROIT) - The disabled community has its share of challenges, but having access to health care shouldn't be one of them.

That's what Jeffrey Nolish from Detroit Disability Power is saying about vaccine accessibility for the vulnerable population. 

"I think the state is at around 54-58% vaccination rate, and you can still vaccinate up to 70% of the state and still miss 99% of people with disabilities," said Jeffrey Nolish, the Detroit Disability Power Policy Director.

This Spring, DDP surveyed 34 residents with disabilities from 12 counties about their vaccination experience.

 71% reported challenges that range from an absence of communication specialists to a lack of clear signage and support.

 "A lack of American Sign Language Interpreters, or communication issues or a lack of accessible routes from outside into the inside of a building or around a building," said Nolish.

DDP is concerned about the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' failure to report disability-related COVID-19 cases and deaths.

"Because if we do not capture or track or report how many people with disabilities contracted this virus, how many people with disabilities have died from this virus, or how many people with disabilities have been vaccinated against this virus, then we are not doing our due diligence in protecting our communities as we could be or should be," said Nolish.

MDHHS officials released a statement to CW50 saying the department is reaching out to homebound residents to administer shots.

Medicaid also formed a list of people identified as disabled.

That list will be matched against vaccine records for tracking.

State health regulators say they're also working with the disability workgroup, Protect Michigan Commission, to launch vaccination sites to serve disabled residents.

© 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.