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Update from Access Living: Illinois Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout


January 22, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Update from Access Living:

Illinois Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

Access Living friends and allies:

Yesterday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States, starting a huge shift in federal leadership and priorities. At the top of their list is the effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, including the massive vaccination efforts. For many people with disabilities and support workers, securing access to vaccine protection is a critical priority. Here is what we know at this timeā€¦please read carefully.

Chicago Vaccine Rollout: Important! There is a deadline of Saturday January 23 for CHICAGO home services workers to register to get a vaccine. You can find out more details at this link. The City of Chicago has its own vaccine rollout program and the City’s vaccine hub website is at this link. Currently, people with underlying medical conditions ages 16-64 are in Chicago’s Phase 1c, which is expected to start in March. People with disabilities and seniors in congregate settings are prioritized, but those living in the community are in a later phase. Disability stakeholders are raising questions about equitable access to the vaccine and this continues to be an ongoing area of advocacy for Access Living. The key however, for everyone, is going to be increasing the availability of vaccine supplies, which would help speed up the process.

Increasing Federal Engagement on Vaccines: Already, President Biden has signed an Executive Order establishing the structure for the federal Covid-19 team response. The Biden administration also has a guiding strategy document for Covid-19 response, which includes disability-related items such as ensuring that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issue guidance on Covid-19 response for people with disabilities, as well as data collection including on disability status. See this attachment for the federal strategy: National Strategy for the Covid 19 Response.pdf.

National Covid-19 Vaccine Informational Session in ASL: On Tuesday, January 26, there will be a Facebook video event in American Sign Language where Deaf people can ask questions about the Covid-19 vaccine from medical professionals who work with Deaf people. The event information is at this link. The event is hosted by the University of Michigan.

State of Illinois Vaccine Rollout: The Trump administration had left it up to states to design their vaccine rollout plan, and it is too early to tell exactly how increased federal involvement from the Biden administration could change what the State of Illinois has done so far. At this link is the main page for the State of Illinois Covid-19 response (materials are in multiple langue. The Illinois vaccine strategy is at this link; it is based on recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The Illinois plan has two main phases, 1A and 1B. We are currently in 1A and 1B is expected to start January 25 (Monday). The phases are:

Phase 1A: health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities
Phase 1B: persons over 75 years old, and non-health care frontline essential workers

However, Access Living has heard from Illinois disability stakeholders that there is concern that people with disabilities who live in the community do not have a clear or equitable pathway to vaccination at this time. While vaccination access for people in congregate settings is critical, thousands of people with disabilities in the community-who were among the first to shelter in place-are wondering if they will be the last to emerge. We encourage Illinoisans to email the State at DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV to share your stories to demonstrate why vaccine access is important to you. They need to hear your stories.

Access Living Vaccine Info: Access Living continues to monitor available resources and info about Covid-19 and the vaccines. Questions you may have might be answered at this page. Remember, you can also contact us with questions at our main contact info page at this link. Don’t hesitate to reach out! The vaccine rollout will continue to evolve rapidly. We hope this info is useful for folks at this point in time.