Not every response to the pandemic has been designed with accessibility in mind, creating more challenges for those with disabilities. Even as the vaccine rollout accelerates, Americans with disabilities still face barriers to get vaccinated, though many of them are at a high risk for what could be a deadly case of the disease. Arizona residents with disabilities in group or care homes are prioritized for the vaccine, but if these individuals live outside group or care homes, they have the same eligibility as everyone else.
Louis Hopkins, a 46-year-old Arizona resident with Myotonic Dystrophy who lives with his mother, does not have vaccine priority, even though he is at high risk. Muscular Dystrophy weakens all muscles, including the muscles of the respiratory system, placing Hopkins in very real danger of dying should he catch COVID.
Arizona residents who are hard of hearing or deaf can also face communication difficulties when seeking vaccination. Sherri Collins, who is deaf, describes the “chaos” of her efforts: “Not one person offered to communicate in writing. I had nothing. Luckily, my husband was with me and he was able to assist or facilitate the communication.” As of now, these accessibility problems remain unresolved, leaving Arizona residents with disabilities to navigate a vaccine rollout that may leave them without recourse.