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VaxAbilities vaccine clinics underway for people with disabilities and sensory-support needs

Statewide vaccine equity initiative partnership, including Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, launched

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

November 05, 2021

VaxAbilities disability-friendly vaccination clinics are now available to ensure that Massachusetts residents with developmental disabilities and other sensory-support needs have the most comfortable and positive COVID-19 vaccination experiences possible. Vaccine appointments at designated disability-friendly locations staffed with trained professionals will provide skilled support to children and adults with disabilities and their family members and caretakers.

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Clinics in Worcester, Springfield, Lowell and Brockton have been scheduled,
with more dates and sites coming online soon. Sites offering online appointment
reservations are listed on the VaxAbilities website

VaxAbilities is an initiative of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Network, comprising the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at the UMass Chan Medical School, the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, the Massachusetts Disability Law Center and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. Numerous other partners include state agencies, major clinical centers throughout the commonwealth and other professional groups.

The reach of VaxAbilities vaccine events is expanded with newly approved COVID vaccines for children aged 5 to 9.

“We’ll be bringing additional sensory-trained clinicians and staff to events across the commonwealth with materials and strategies to support a range of needs for children and adults,” said Emily Lauer, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine & community health at UMass Chan and director of the Center for Developmental Disabilities Evaluation and Research at the Shriver Center. “We are grateful for the funding we’ve received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Community Living to support COVID vaccination for people with disabilities, and the high degree of collaboration with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and related agencies, disability advocacy groups and providers across the commonwealth to make these events possible.”

VaxAbilities is part of the robust vaccination distribution infrastructure that has been established in Massachusetts. Individuals with disabilities and those who have access and functional needs are among the priority populations addressed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative.

“For months we’ve been preparing to distribute vaccines across the state so that families would have easy access once they were approved and over the past year we have built a nation-leading vaccine distribution infrastructure that is grounded in our relationships with partners like local boards of health, hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, community health centers and many other health care providers,” said Gov. Charlie Baker at his Thursday, Nov. 4, press conference.

So far clinics in Worcester, Springfield, Lowell and Brockton have been scheduled, with more dates and sites coming online soon. Sites offering online appointment reservations are listed on the VaxAbilities website.

Most of the events will offer COVID vaccinations for children ages 5 and up, and initial vaccines and boosters for adults. Appointments are recommended but walk-ins will be welcome as supply permits. People without disabilities can also get vaccinated, including family members ages 5 and up, and staff that may accompany people with a disability.

Related stories on UMassMed News:
Shriver Center awarded five-year renewal of LEND program
Child Psychiatry Access Project for Autism Spectrum Disorder at the ready during pandemic