BALTIMORE, May 18, 2021 —The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD), along with the nationwide network, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), has launched a new public health initiative, COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Confidence for People with Disabilities.
MCDD, a part of Kennedy Krieger Institute, is one of 23-AUCD network centers strategically located across the country to reach local disability communities, reduce access barriers, and promote vaccine confidence. The goal is to vaccinate all eligible people with disabilities by the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26.
“This is our latest effort in work we’ve undertaken throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support individuals with disabilities, their families, and direct support professionals,” says Maureen van Stone, MCDD’s director. “This project focuses on increasing vaccine access to ensure all people with disabilities are able to get a vaccine.”
The initiative builds on vaccine confidence in the disability community through family conversations in the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Network centers also will share information about the COVID-19 vaccine in community meetings, newsletters, social media campaigns, short videos, and other local outreach efforts.
“Family members often provide important support in the lives of people who have disabilities. That’s why it’s so important to get them involved—we believe it will bring us that much closer to our #VaccinateByADA goal,” van Stone says. “But we want the whole community to be aware of our goal to increase vaccine access for the disability community.”
Kennedy Krieger, along with staff from Johns Hopkins Medicine, recently started a series of free, drive-through vaccination clinics for people with disabilities. In addition, van Stone and colleagues have shared information about the vaccines during media interviews, written social stories and blogs, and disseminated fact sheets.
Approximately one in four Americans has a disability, yet current vaccination efforts do not consistently include them. Twelve AUCD centers will develop model outreach strategies that can be replicated by others across the country over the next several months. An additional 11 AUCD centers are conducting rapid outreach efforts over the next few weeks leading up to the ADA Anniversary to promote vaccine access and boost confidence. Virtual Town Halls will help problem-solve over the next several months as younger age groups become eligible for vaccination.
COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Confidence for People with Disabilities is made possible through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About Kennedy Krieger Institute:
Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally known, non-profit organization located in the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region, transforms the lives of more than 25,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient medical, behavioral health and wellness therapies, home and community services, school-based programs, training and education for professionals and advocacy. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults with diseases, disorders or injuries that impact the nervous system, ranging from mild to severe. The Institute is home to a team of investigators who contribute to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneer new interventions and methods of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Visit KennedyKrieger.org for more information about Kennedy Krieger.
Jamie Watt Arnold