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Arizona announces initiative to vaccinate people with disabilities

(File Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona officials on Tuesday announced a new initiative to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to people with disabilities.

The state is partnering with organizations that provide services for people with disabilities to hold onsite vaccination events, according to a press release.

“As vaccine supply increases, we can now launch focused efforts within highly impacted communities,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said in the release.

“This partnership provides access to vaccines for individuals with disabilities and their families in familiar settings, and we will continue to expand these opportunities so all communities have easy access to vaccine within the state.”

ADHS is working with Passport Health, a provider of immunization services, to conduct the events.

Special Olympics volunteers with experience helping people with disabilities will provide support for the individuals and families taking part in the program.

Sign language interpreters provided by the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will also be on hand.

“Accessibility to the vaccine creates a sense of security and assurance for all Arizonans, especially to the community with disabilities who have experienced detrimental effects from long term isolation,” Jamie Heckerman, president and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, said in the release.

“We are proud to join in this partnership to protect vulnerable individuals and families, and I thank everyone who is supporting those with disabilities during the pandemic.”

The organizations involved will let their communities know when and where the events will be held and how to register.

Officials expect 3,000 vaccine doses to be administered during a two-day event this weekend at Ability360, an east Phoenix fitness center that specializes in programs for people with disabilities.

“At Ability360, we’re committed to serving Arizonans with disabilities and ensuring they have access to much-needed resources,” Phil Pangrazio, president and CEO of Ability360, said in the release.

“This partnership is a big step in ensuring they have the ability to get vaccinated easily and quickly, and that our disability community and their families are further protected from COVID-19.”

The Arc, a national organization that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has chapters throughout Arizona, will also host vaccination events.

“This initiative promotes that goal by expanding accessibility to vaccines for many of our state’s most vulnerable residents – members of the disability community and their families,” Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc, said in the release.

“We are proud to partner on this, and we thank everyone who helped advance this project.”

In addition to the onsite events, ADHS also will coordinate with Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities to get its members vaccinated at state-run sites or at the homes of those who can’t go out.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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