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Disability Advocate calls for persons with disabilities to have vaccine choice

Vaccine shot drug needle syringe on black background

Advocacy organisation People with Disability Australia has called for people with disability and their treating practitioners to be able to assess their risk of getting COVID-19 and choose what vaccine to get after residents and workers at a disability group home caught the virus.

The peak advocacy organisation’s plea comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison this afternoon said risk profiles for getting COVID had shifted in recent times and states should be able to choose whether to vaccinate under-60s with AstraZeneca at mass vaccination clinics.

The PM’s comments came after he faced criticism for questioning Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice that Pfizer was the preferred vaccine for under-60s.

Since COVID-19 vaccines were introduced in Australia, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has argued people with disability and their supporters should have a choice of vaccines, if they wanted one, and should have priority for vaccination.

PWDA president Samantha Connor said people with disability should be able to choose what vaccine they received, and when and where they got vaccinated.

“The Delta variant of COVID-19 is a massive threat to the disability community and people with disability should be able to look at their risk of catching the virus and judge whether they want to wait for the vaccine recommended for them or go with one more readily available,” Ms Connor said.

“Some people with disability prefer Pfizer as an option, regardless of their age, but others younger than 60 want AstraZeneca now so they can be protected against dying from the virus.”

The advocate and disability rights campaigner said people with disability should be able to judge their risks in partnership with their trusted health professionals and both Pfizer and AstraZeneca should be made available to people in the 1a and 1b rollout.

Urgent discussions are currently being held between members of the disability community about State-based decision making not to provide AstraZeneca in community clinics, scarcity of Pfizer and ascertaining the risk for clinically vulnerable disabled people, especially those in residential settings.

The New South Wales Government today revealed three residents and two staff members who worked in Sydney’s Unisson Disability home in Parklea were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The disability community members were among 124 people in the state to be diagnosed with the virus during the nation’s Delta outbreak which has affected states across the country.

NSW Health’s state health protection director Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the workers and residents who caught the virus had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.

The vaccination status of other people at the six-bed segregated accommodationrun by the National Disability Insurance Scheme-funded service provider is unknown.

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