HARRISBURG, PA (KDKA) – The state is continuing to address the barriers that are preventing some people from getting access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“People with IDD and their caregivers are facing challenges in accessing the vaccine. They have difficulty with the online scheduling as well as finding places where physical accommodations can be made to meet their needs,” said Sherri Landis with The Arc of Pennsylvania.READ MORE: Pa. Drops COVID-19 Vaccine Map, Encourages Use Of Federal Map
Rite Aid has partnered with the state to open a call center to help people with intellectual disabilities gain better access to the shot.
“People with intellectual disabilities are two-and-a-half times more likely to get COVID and almost three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and almost six times more likely to die than the general population,” said Matthew Aaron, the Pennsylvania president of Special Olympics.READ MORE: Bradford Co. DA Chad Salsman Pleads Guilty In Sex Case, Resigns From Position
Those statistics are the reason for the partnership. State leaders said they are working to break any barrier to help protect anyone, but especially those with underlying conditions that can’t just walk into a clinic.
“The primary accommodation people are requesting is they can’t wear a mask so they can’t go into a public place, they can’t go into a store because for medical reasons or sensory reasons they can’t tolerate wearing a mask,” said Kristin Ahrens, who’s with the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs.
Locally, KDKA asked the Autism Society of Pittsburgh if access is a challenge here. The president of the group told KDKA he hasn’t gotten any calls on the topic but knows several people already got the shot in Phase 1A.MORE NEWS: Penguins Playoff Tickets For First Round Home Games Set To Go On Sale
Regardless, that call center is up and running and ready to help. If you need help, the number is 1-800-424-4345.