Able South Carolina (Able SC) – a nonprofit focused on empowering individuals with disabilities to live active, self-determined lives – has announced the creation of the SC Disability Vaccine Access Network; a group of disability-focused nonprofits and leaders in SC with a mission to act against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and address barriers to vaccine access that impact the disability community. The group provides reliable resources for people with disabilities about the COVID-19 vaccine and offers support to address disability related concerns, get answers, and make a plan to get vaccinated. Vaccine facts by and for the disability community can be found at SCDisabilityVaccine.org or by calling the SC Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.
The network provides disability centered fact-based resources, answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, vaccination, and disability, and downloadable materials at their website. The hotline provides callers with answers to questions, support, and assistance with scheduling a vaccine appointment and assists them with eliminating barriers whether it be transportation, requesting accommodations, or advocacy. Finally, the network operates a robust public campaign to educate people on the importance of vaccination for the protection of the whole community, including those with disabilities.
“Misinformation has made it difficult for people with disabilities to know where to turn because disability needs and concerns are not included in general information about the vaccine,” says Kimberly Tissot, president, and chief executive officer of Able SC. “The network’s goal is to address hesitancies by educating South Carolinians about the impact of COVID-19 on the disability community and how vaccination is the best protective measure available to prevent severe disease and death. One-third of South Carolina’s population has a disability, which means one-third of our state is at the highest risk for severe illness. Everyone knows someone with a disability. Our network’s resources help you make a clear and informed decision about protecting your community by securing your shot.”
With the creation of the network comes the launch of a statewide awareness campaign to promote the network’s resources. The campaign is meant to spark conversations among those with and without disabilities in SC, surrounding topics like vaccine hesitancy and the importance of the protection the vaccine offers by highlighting vaccinated “champions” in the community.
“People look to friends, family, and others they trust for advice and how they are impacted by things like COVID-19,” says Tissot. “By centering this campaign on vaccine champions in the disability community, we are breaking through the noise and providing those with disabilities a chance to hear from their peers — people they know and trust.”
In a survey done by the American Association on Health and Disability, 27% of adults with disabilities said they would not be vaccinated or were unsure, based on vaccine hesitancy. The SC Disability Vaccine Access Network’s goal is to address that uncertainty through education and empowerment.
The partner-led program is funded by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Community Living. Able SC partners with AccessAbility, Disability Rights SC, the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council, the University of South Carolina Center for Disability Resources and Walton Options to create the SC Disability Vaccine Access Network.
Individuals interested in learning more about the network can go to SCDisabilityVaccine.org or call the SC Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. The website and hotline will address any concerns a person might have about the vaccine, including the following: helping find a trusted medical professional; scheduling vaccine appointments; transportation to get your vaccine; and can answer some of the most common disability-related questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
About Able South Carolina
Able SC is a change agent committed to fostering an equitable society that empowers individuals with disabilities to live fully engaged and self-directed lives. Able SC is an organization led by individuals with disabilities that challenges stereotypes and promotes disability rights and justice. To learn more about Able SC’s programs and services, visit www.able-sc.org.