Vaccine Access for the Visually Impaired
By Mike Moore
Being visually impaired can be a daily challenge for some, with transportation to and from the services we need being one of the biggest. When vaccines for COVID-19 started becoming available, there was a concern within the blind and visually impaired community about our ability to physically travel to be administered a vaccine. Some realized quickly they would have to travel long distances to get to a location – or worse, deal with a drive-thru situation.
At the start of the vaccine rollout, essential workers and the elderly were prioritized – and rightly so – however, there were many blind and visually impaired people who were also elderly and unable to access the vaccine because of transportation and other circumstances. To help alleviate the burden of access to the vaccine, one local Riverside County blind services center petitioned to have vaccines provided at their facility. This was very unique in the sense that it was the very first in the county to specifically offer the vaccine to the blind and visually impaired community.
Importantly, it was able to offer in addition to its many programs for seniors, the ability to get vaccinated in a familiar place, and in a place that they did not have issues getting transport to and from. The facility was also able to offer the ability for friends and family members to register and get vaccinated there as well. A boon for the community. It has been so important to the blind and visually impaired community, as well as to those with other disabilities to have access to vital national and local services such as COVID-19 vaccines. And, agencies like BSS can be a great asset in helping to bridge the gap to access.
Over the last couple of months, to my sheer delight, and that of others in the blind and visually impaired community, there has been an increased effort in helping disabled individuals gain access to vaccination facilities. Organizations like Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to vaccination locations, and some local bus services have implemented similar programs. The overall increase in the number of facilities where the vaccine can be accessed, both brick and mortar and mobile have also hugely helped the disabled community become vaccinated.
For more information on vaccine access for older adults and people with disabilities the CDC’s information on vaccine access for older adults and people with disabilities at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/older-adults-and-disability/access.html.