By Stephen Ojacor
With COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out around the world, serious concerns have been raised about how persons with disabilities will access the vaccinations. The disability movement has legitimate questions about prioritization of persons with disabilities and their support networks to vaccinations, accessibility of vaccination processes, related information and venues, and provision of vaccines on the basis of free and informed consent of all persons with disabilities.
Hon Hellen Asamo State Minister for Gender, Labor and social development was in Teso Sub Region to encourage people with disability to turn up for Covid – 19 vaccination.
Speaking to a section of people with disability in Soroti City, she pleaded to them
to welcome the vaccination exercise. She further assured them that the jab has no
negative impact on their health.
She further reminds those who who are not people living with disabilities to give a
helping hand by transporting People with Disabilities to the Covid – 19
Vaccination centers as they may not be able to move for longer distances.
“there are People with disabilities who are completely crippled and cannot manage
to move to health centers, while those who are deaf may not be aware about the
ongoing Covid – 19 Vaccination. I appeal to the public to be kind and have them
helped too”, She said.
She adds that it is the right of every citizen of Uganda to access free health services
while government is committed to ensure that every citizen either disabled, or
elderly access their mandatory services.
Meanwhile the Deputy Speaker for Soroti City Council Frank Tumwebase also
disabled added his voice however he notes the challenges they face as people with
disabilities during the ongoing vaccination exercise.
“Sometimes we face problems to travel from villages to health centers for
vaccination yet Covid – 19 demands us, secondly there are mythical beliefs
circulating about the jabs and I call for more sensitization”, Tumwebazi said.
The Minister also called for lenience, tolerance and to the people with disabilities
by the public during the vaccination.
“there is no reason of giving a person with disability to stand on a long line with
other people because he or she might have struggled to reached at the facility, let
them be served instantly”, advised health workers in the region.
The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), initiated advocacy at global, regional and national levels to ensure maximizing prioritization, inclusion, and accessibility of persons with disabilities in the rollout and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Additional Reporting by IDDC
Reach the furthest behind first: Persons with disabilities must be prioritized in accessing COVID-19 vaccinations
On behalf of persons with disabilities and their organizations as well as support networks all over the world, we call on all governments, United Nations agencies and the private sector to immediately take all measures to ensure that:
- COVID-19 vaccinations are available in free or low-cost targeted programs to all people including persons with disabilities and support networks of their choice;
- Persons with disabilities and support networks of their choice have priority access to vaccinations; including personal assistants, family caregivers, and persons working in disability-related services;
- Sites, where vaccinations are delivered, are physically accessible and live guidance and assistance is provided for those who need it. Free or low-cost targeted programs for accessible transportation must be provided where necessary;
- Specific outreach is conducted to ensure that persons with disabilities know of the availability of vaccinations, and all information campaigns are inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities, including gender and age-appropriate;
- All information systems related to vaccinations must collect data disaggregated by age, gender and disability, and web-based services should also be fully accessible while ensuring respect for private life and the confidentiality of health-related information;
- Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination must be based on free and informed consent of persons with disabilities. Autonomy and legal capacity of all persons with disabilities including persons with intellectual disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities and autistic persons must not be undermined with justifications such as public good or the best interest of the person;
- International organizations and government must ensure that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations meaningfully participate in policy-making and planning on distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and related processes;
- Organizations of persons with disabilities must be properly resourced to become partners in the roll-out of information campaigns, for instance by reaching out to the most marginalized people and ensure their messages are clear, inclusive and accessible.