Special Session: Access to COVID-19 Vaccines: Issues and Barriers for Persons with Disabilities

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Eastern Time Zone


As the federal government and states increase distribution and delivery of vaccines for the Corona virus, barriers to these vaccines for persons with disabilities have emerged. Join us as our speakers address policies regarding the determination of who is eligible to receive the vaccines during the various phases of the rollout and the disparities that exist. In addition, this session will discuss how the ADA applies to the state/local governments and private organizations administering the vaccinations, web based and telephone systems used to search/locate and schedule a vaccine appointment, vaccination site accessibility, effective communication with recipients and modifications in policies, practices and procedures. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters.

This session will have captioning and sign language interpreter available.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
Certificate of Attendance 1.5


Nancy Horton, Information Specialist, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

Andrew Imparato, Executive Director, Disability Rights California

Questions for presenters:

1 It seems that in order to sign up to get the COVID Vaccines, people need to do so on-line. What is being done to help People with Disabilities who either do not have internet access, or, who may not be internet savvy to get signed up?
2 What is being done or can be done to make sure places offering COVID Vaccine are accessible via Public Transit and Paratransit?
3 It appears that many websites related to vaccine sign ups are not accessible and may not work for people who use screen readers or other AT. How will this be addressed moving forward.
4 Fragrance chemicals can cause severe adverse medical reactions in many people with disabilities, such as respiratory, neurological, and autoimmune health conditions. Therefore, the presence of fragrance constitutes a physical access barrier for many people with disabilities. Most healthcare facilities are not fragrance-free, so even if an individual with fragrance allergy can receive the vaccine from a mobile vaccine clinic, they will not be able to safely visit the ER if they experience an adverse reaction to the vaccine. What is being done to remove this barrier to access?
5 What is being done to make public health websites accessible? The ones that I have come across have inaccessible PDF images of text blocks about vaccine phases.
6 How can we best use a systematic approach to create a training and process to work with community partners to respond quickly to overcoming these disparities in times of crisis?
7 The Biden Administration made a commitment to "at home" and community-based vaccine delivery systems. How is this currently being developed?
8 What efforts are being made to assist people with disabilities to get to scheduled appointments in places where transportation services are nonexistent or only operate on a limited basis?
9 The one issue we have had is that some felt the Disability Community was being left behind in Indiana. Some felt like they should have been vaccinated first. It is our understanding that not all people with disabilities have underlying medical conditions, or are of a certain age, therefore they were not given any more preferential than any other abled-bodied person with an underlying medical condition. Having a disability alone, was not among the CDC's criteria for receiving the vaccine first. Being a member of the Health Care community or First Responder, or of a certain age was the suggested criteria. Would that be the proper way to respond to these type of general complaints, or can you offer up more guidance?
10 I am elderly, homebound, and disabled. There is no 'at home' vaccination program in my area. My medical network told me to check with the county. The county said my town isn't participating in the county's program, and I should contact its health department. My town's health dep't said it's not going to set up an 'at home' program, and that I ought to consider other options. How should I be advocating for myself and others like me in light of the president's stated interest regarding 'at home' programs, given the ''pass the buck'' mentality of those who could help?

Session Questions

This session is accepting questions from registered users. After you have registered to participate in this session you can submit your questions on your Account Manager page. Please note: the number of questions will be limited and submissions will be closed well before the session starts to provide time to prepare answers.