As the temperature across the country increases, so does the availability of all three types of the COVID-19 vaccine. People with spinal cord injury and other disabilities really need to know when and where to go to get these all-important doses, so they can get back to doing the things they love – just like everybody else.
In late February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new info for people with disabilities and what they should expect when sourcing their COVID-19 vaccinations. We are reprinting it here so that you’ll have the best and most up-to-date information. In it, the CDC directs individuals to look to their state’s health department to get exact instructions. You can find that searchable tool here: CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Information
What People with Disabilities and Care Providers Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine
This webpage provides information for people with disabilities or conditions that may increase their risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, and for their care providers. If you do not see the information you need, please check the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
Get a COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccines are now available to help protect you from getting COVID-19. Disability alone does not put you at higher risk for getting COVID-19. You may be at higher risk because of where you live, such as a long-term care home. You may be at risk because you need to have close contact with care providers. You may also be at risk because you have difficulty wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from other people, or washing your hands.
Many people with disabilities have diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or obesity. These conditions may put you at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. Talk to your doctor about your health conditions that may put you at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 and about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Down Syndrome is one condition that may put you at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. You might wonder why your disability is not on the underlying conditions list. Conditions are added when there is enough scientific evidence to support putting them on the list. The list is updated as new information becomes available. Please check back often for updates.
Take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19.
When to get your COVID-19 vaccine
It is important that people with disabilities get the COVID-19 vaccine when they are able to. The COVID-19 vaccine is being given to people by “Phase”. CDC makes recommendations for who should first be offered the COVID-19 vaccine. Each state then creates its own vaccination plan given the needs of its communities. The CDC recommendations for order of COVID-19 vaccinations are:
- People in Phase 1a are healthcare workers and people who live in long-term care homes.
- People in Phase 1b are adults who are 75 years and older and essential workers.
- People in Phase 1c are adults who are 65 years and older, essential workers who were not in Phase 1b, and people 16 years and older who have high-risk medical conditions.
- People in Phase 2 are all people 16 years and older living in the United States.
People with disabilities can be a part of any of these phases. Some states include people with disabilities in Phase 1a or Phase 1b. Talk to your state health department for the most updated information on when the vaccine is available and when you can be vaccinated. Visit your state health department website for the most up-to-date information on when the vaccine is available and when you can be vaccinated.
How to get a COVID-19 vaccine for my care provider
You might have someone who helps you with your day-to-day activities, such as a care provider. Care providers may be considered essential workers in vaccination plans. Hospice, home healthcare, and group home providers are considered essential workers. Some examples of home healthcare providers are skilled nurses and therapists and other people who provide personal care services in the home.
A parent or family member might help you with your day-to-day activities. People who help you with your care might be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as you do, depending on what state they live in. Your family member or care provider can contact the health department in the state they live in to find out if they can get the COVID-19 vaccine when you do.
What to expect after your vaccination
You may have mild symptoms, like low fever, body aches, or a headache after vaccination. These side effects are normal and can last a few days. If you get the COVID-19 vaccine and have side effects that do not go away in a few days or have more serious symptoms, be sure to call your doctor.
You will need to get a second dose of the vaccine to get the most protection. The timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you received. You should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible.
You will need to continue to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others after getting two doses of the vaccine. Everyone should continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.
Research shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people 16 years of age and older. Call your doctor if you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.
How to access materials about COVID-19
CDC is working to make COVID-19 resources accessible for everyone. We have resources about COVID-19 that are easy to read. We have resources for people with limited English. We also have resources in American Sign Language.
The CDC Foundation funded the Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) to make some COVID-19 resources in other formats like braille. You can find these resources here: https://cidi.gatech.edu/covid