ARCH supports the International Disability Alliance’s call for persons with disabilities to be prioritized in accessing COVID-19 vaccinations.
The International Disability Alliance (IDA) has called upon governments and health care systems around the world to include persons with disabilities and support networks of their choice for priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations. To read the IDA’s statement go to: https://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/content/covid-19-and-disability-movement
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides that people with disabilities have the right to life, equal access to health care, and the right to receive supports to live independently and participate in the community. According to the World Health Organization, during public health emergencies, persons with disabilities around the world are particularly vulnerable to violations of these rights.
In Ontario and Canada, COVID-19 and the response of some governments and service providers to the pandemic has negatively impacted persons with disabilities in many ways. The rights of persons with disabilities to life and equal access to health care have been threatened by triage protocols, which would have the effect of prioritizing access to life-saving health care treatment to persons without disabilities in times of resource shortage. Visitor restriction policies in hospitals and congregate care settings have violated the rights of persons with disabilities to equal access to health care and to live independently in the community by preventing persons with disabilities from having access to supports they need for basic communication and participation in decision-making. Lack of accessible technology, high speed internet and supports to use online platforms have left many persons with disabilities isolated. More information on ARCH’s work on triage protocols, visitation ban policies, access to technology and the rights of persons with disabilities during COVID-19 is available by going to: https://archdisabilitylaw.ca/covid/
ARCH supports the IDA’s call for governments to ensure that:
• Persons with disabilities and support networks of their choice have priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
• Sites where vaccinations are delivered must be physically accessible and in-person supports must be provided or facilitated for persons with disabilities who require them. Accessible transportation must be provided.
• Specific outreach must be conducted to ensure that persons with disabilities know about the availability of vaccinations. Information must be provided in multiple, accessible forms and formats.
• Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination must be based upon free and informed consent of persons with disabilities.
• Persons with disabilities participate meaningfully in policy making and planning on distributions of COVID-19 vaccinations and related processes.
• Organizations of persons with disabilities (disabled persons organizations) must be properly resourced to become partners in the roll-out of information campaigns, for example by reaching out to the most marginalized people and ensuring that messaging is clear, inclusive and accessible.