Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Must be Prioritized for the COVID-19 Booster Shot
For immediate release – December 15, 2021
Edmonton, AB – Inclusion Alberta is calling on the Alberta government to prioritize individuals with developmental disabilities in the COVID-19 third (‘booster’) dose roll out.
Science clearly indicates that individuals with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome experience a much higher rate of severe illness and death should they contract COVID-19. Given this, Inclusion Alberta was pleased that the provincial government prioritized Albertans with underlying health conditions including ‘severe and profound learning disabilities or severe developmental delay, including Down syndrome’ in Phase 2B of the initial vaccine distribution which began March 30, 2021. However, these individuals have now been left behind and at undue risk in the booster shot roll-out. It is imperative that decisions are made not only on the basis of science, but also with equity and equality in mind.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) as well as the Alberta government have said that COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness may decrease over time, and that a third dose can boost immunity to improve protection and limit spread. While other provincial jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan, have prioritized individuals with developmental disabilities in booster shot distribution, it is disappointing to see that Alberta has not included this population as being deemed ‘most at risk’. This is further exacerbated by the fact that having been prioritized for initial vaccinations, the length of time since completing their full course of shots will be longer for many individuals with developmental disabilities than average, leaving more time for waning immunity to occur.
Alberta Health has been responsive previously with respect to ensuring equality and equity with respect to initial vaccine distribution, triage protocols and support for individuals with developmental disabilities who have to be hospitalized. Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have been appreciative of these needed and necessary accommodations. We believe, on the basis of science, equality and equity this needs to be applied to the booster vaccination schedule as well to ensure the rightful inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities at the earliest possibility.
Inclusion Alberta calls upon families and allies to contact your MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly/Alberta Government) today and explain the need to include high-risk Albertans with developmental disabilities in the early phases of booster vaccination distribution plan. Click here to find your MLA, and please email us to let us know if you contact them.
As all Albertans 18 and older are eligible to receive a booster providing it has been 6 months since your second dose, Inclusion Alberta encourages families not yet able to book appointments to contact their local pharmacy to see if they are able to fill an unbooked vaccine appointment at the end of the day, often offered in order to prevent product wastage.
For further inquiries, or to arrange for an interview please contact:
About Inclusion Alberta: Inclusion Alberta is a family based, non-profit federation that advocates on behalf of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Together, we share a dream of meaningful family life and community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities. As an advocacy organization we support families and individuals in their desire to be fully included in community life.