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Gratitude and advocacy for vaccines: Call to action!

What’s happening?

Updated 1/15/2020

Virginia and DC have prioritized people with developmental disabilities in some congregate settings to receive the vaccine, including putting our L’Arche homes in the first priority groups! Over 9 months of intensive advocacy with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has paid off as we see our community members with intellectual disabilities, and those that support them, prioritized. We are so grateful for the many advocates and for the public healthcare workers and state and local officials for making this a reality!

Update: Our Virginia homes received the first dose of the vaccine in mid-January!

Yet even while we celebrate, these 9 months of hard work have taught us that things can change in an instant – we know of at least one state where a group home of people with intellectual disabilities was knocked off their priority status.

We are also aware that not everyone has the priority access we do; some people with developmental disabilities have been left out of priority access because they live at home with their families or because they don’t receive a certain type of government assistance. Many people with disabilities are reliant on another person for direct support, whether they live in a group home or their own home, and this could leave them more vulnerable to exposure to the virus. We believe people with developmental disabilities deserve priority access no matter what sort of home they live in or assistance they do or don’t receive.

Update: This is a major issue for one of our DC homes!

One of our DC homes is classified as a “Supported Living” home rather than a group home. This means they were not prioritized for receiving the vaccine. Those receiving support in Supported Living homes are also often depending on people to come into their homes to provide support and are at risk of contracting the virus much like people in other residential settings.

We are asking you to help us send both our gratitude and our request – let’s make sure as many people with developmental disabilities as possible receive this vaccine, and soon!

What can you do? 

Write a thank you note with our request to your state, city, or local officials! This can be an email or paper letter. 

Find your representative: 

In Virginia you can find your representative by typing in your zip code at this website. You can contact the governor here

In DC contact the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser, your Ward chair, and Council members Vince Gray (Committee on Health) and Brianne Nadeau (Committee on Human Services). 

If you live elsewhere and want to advocate in your state, email us at maryellendingley@larche-gwdc.org and we can help you find the best contact info!

Script: feel free to personalize it!

Dear ______________,

I am writing to thank you for prioritizing vaccine access for people with developmental disabilities living in group homes! I am so grateful for your hard work during this difficult time and for listening to the needs of your constituents with disabilities. 

I want to request that, during this time where many things are in flux, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities remain prioritized in vaccine access. This includes people with disabilities in Supported Living homes, where they have been de-prioritized in some locations. People in Supported Living rely on others coming into their homes and therefore are at risk much in the same way people with disabilities in group homes are!

As plans are being finalized and vaccines are being distributed, please continue to prioritize ALL people with disabilities, in ALL living situations. They, and those who support them, need access to the vaccine as soon as possible. 

People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable to this virus and they, and their caregivers, need to have access to the vaccine no matter their living situation!

Thank you for listening to my requests, and thank you again for all of the work that you do.

With gratitude,

____________________

Charles and other community members wrote letters to local officials to advocate for vaccine prioritization!
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