Vaccine passports will be a key item on National Cabinet’s agenda today. But as the country prepares to open up, with NSW hurtling toward that milestone, there are grave fears that Australians with a disability will be left behind with vaccination rates still lagging. Guest: Professor Anne Kavanagh.
People with Disability Australia (PWDA), along with other disability organisations, say they are still waiting for a clear plan and targets to ensure priority groups are vaccinated – including people with disability and chronic medical conditions – before plans to open-up are implemented.
The first doses of vaccine arrived on Australia’s shores on February 15 and most of the highest priority people were to have received at least a first dose by April. The strategy was sound – but you need more than words on a page to make strategy become reality.
The COVID-19 pandemic compounded existing inequalities for workers with disability, leaving many of them feeling stretched, stressed and unfairly treated. However, the unprecedented move to remote and flexible work during the pandemic also created opportunities to better understand how flexible work arrangements can support people with disability to access and participate meaningfully in the workplace. … Continued
Just over a quarter of Australians in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are fully vaccinated – behind the national average – with hundreds of thousands of people yet to have a jab despite being in the federal government’s highest priority groups.
Frustrated disability groups say the Australian government has failed to protect the nation’s most clinically vulnerable people during the pandemic. Now, they have put forward an 11-point plan to urgently improve the vaccine rollout for the disability community.
Even as I walked into my appointment, with my eligibility letter gripped tightly in my fist, I felt like a fraud. Worried they’d call me out for finding a work-related loophole into a life-saving vaccine that I wasn’t allowed for the life-saving reasons.
Prof Anne Kavanagh, a University of Melbourne academic, said 18 months into the pandemic “we still don’t know how many people with disability have had Covid-19 nor how many have died”. “Last year the commonwealth government did report cases among NDIS participants but that data didn’t include the 4 million disabled Australians who are not NDIS participants,” she said.
Disability advocates are alarmed at the idea Australia needs to “learn to live with COVID”, saying that could mean a life of isolation and even death for many people with disability.
The study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Oxford University and Public Health England found risks were particularly high for those with profound learning disabilities linked to Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy. Among Covid patients with Down’s syndrome, for example, the risk of dying from the infection was 36 times higher than in the general population.
Coronavirus vaccines are ‘strongly recommended’ for disability support workers, but not yet mandatory
The peak body for disability services says national cabinet’s decision not to mandate vaccines for people working in the sector at this time is “hugely disappointing”.
Disability support workers may soon be forced to get vaccinated against coronavirus if they want to keep their jobs. The compulsory jab policy has been recommended by a panel of health experts and will be debated at a national cabinet meeting on Friday. The proposed mandate follows a similar order imposed on aged care workers, who must receive at least one dose by mid-September to remain employed in the industry.
“It is certainly an issue that we’ve been working with states and territories on. It is very important, I believe, that disability support workers, particularly those who work in disability accommodation, are vaccinated to protect those that they look after.”
Let us be clear. If the intention is to “let her rip” before ensuring that all of the 1a and 1b vaccine rollout groups are vaccinated, this will not be “living with COVID”. This will be eugenics against a protected group of citizens. People with disability will die.
COVID vaccines ‘strongly recommended’ for disability workers, but advocates say they should be mandatory
Mr Morrison said the government was looking to incentivise corporate sector vaccinations for aged care and disability. “With the corporate program that will be used to incentive vaccinations for aged care workers, we will extend that to disability care workers as well.”