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The challenges of getting a vaccine with a disability

COVID-19 vaccines may be open for everyone over 16 in Pennsylvania, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to get one, especially for people with disabilities.

MOOSIC, Pa. — It can be a challenge for those with disabilities to schedule appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine and then physically get to vaccination sites for those shots.

“When I went to the vaccine site and saw the barrier, I had no idea how I was going to get over that step, a step to me is as big as a mountain, I can’t cross it," said Josh Basile, a disabilities advocate.

Basile is a quadriplegic and advocate for those with disabilities.

He said just making an appointment on certain websites has been a big problem for those with different abilities.

“There are a lot of access barriers, we like to call this the accessibility gap. What it is is the internet is more inaccessible than it is accessible and it just continues to grow unfortunately in the wrong direction.”

Advocates like Basile said more needs to be done to help people get information and make those appointments and then safely get to vaccine site locations. 

They said caregivers can help, but that is not always enough.

“There are too few of us who speak loud enough to shake things up and it’s sad that in order to be protected you have to be powerful in numbers. I want to call on people with disabilities to not be afraid to speak up," added Basile.

People with different abilities are among those who can be most vulnerable to coronavirus.

They said that makes it all the more important they’re able to get those shots if they want them.

“Especially when it comes to COVID-19, you don’t want to be an afterthought, because that can mean life or death," said Basile.

There are some offering help right now.

The company accessiBe is offering help to nonprofits and others to make their websites more user-friendly for those with different abilities.

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