Disabled community pleads for inclusion in the Covid-19 campaigns

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By Carlena Knight

The disabled community is renewing their call for inclusivity where Covid-19 awareness campaigns are concerned.

Head of the local Disability Association, Bernard Warner, revealed that some members are left out of the loop for the ongoing national vaccination program.

Presently, there are 100 persons in the association, but 500 disabled overall in the country according to world standards of what classifies a person as disabled.

“I have received reports from a number of persons who say they were having challenges getting the vaccine because some of the persons are paralysed and could not come out to go to the vaccine centres, and this is prior to when they had the series of vaccinations for people with disabilities,” Warner said.

A list, according to Warner, was being constructed to find out how many persons with disabilities would be interested in being vaccinated, but after collecting around 70 names and sharing it with the Ministry of Health, there has been no other word from their end.

He added that with the ongoing educational programs, there is no provision being made for the disabled to be able to follow and comprehend the given information.

“One of the top concerns that I want to address is that there has not been any sign language interpreter for over eight months for all of the programs that have been running on ABS to properly inform the deaf and hearing-impaired community, which we found to be very serious, knowing that many of the countries in the Caribbean and even the Americas, on every press briefing, on every program that’s connected to the vaccine and the pandemic, there is someone signing in the background so that the deaf and hearing-impaired community can receive the information at the same time as all citizens,” he added.

Warner also highlighted that the implementation of these new restrictions will have a negative impact on the care given to the vulnerable members of the association, if no measure is put in place for them.

“We have heard that the government said that there is going to be some lockdown and for people to stay within their bubbles. I want to really say that there is going to be a challenge for many persons with disabilities, especially those that depend on people to assist them. Not all persons with disabilities have family members who assist them, and there are number of them who depend on charity to provide food and for people to take them places who are not within their particular family,” he said.

Because of these reasons, the head of the association is calling on the government to have a sit down with the disabled community to “discuss providing some special provisions for these persons so that we cannot be charged for breaking any laws.”

Warner further called on the around 500 special-needs residents to get vaccinated once they do not have any underlying illnesses.

“Yes, I support the campaign by the doctors. I would encourage persons with disabilities and all persons to take the vaccine, but if a person believes that they should not, based on their underlying illness, I am not against that. I would just encourage a person to speak with his or her doctor and find out if he or she should take it or not,” Warner added.

Outside of the vaccination program and Covid protocols, the need for food and financial assistance still remains, according to Warner.

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