Recommendations to Prioritize COVID Vaccine for the I/DD Community

December 21, 2020

Updated: December 30, 2020

After much anticipation, the State of New Jersey, along with the rest of the nation, began distributing and administering the first doses of the recently FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Plans have been underway at the federal and state levels for the distribution of the vaccine for some time.

Prioritization, allocation, and distribution of this initially limited supply falls to our state public health officials at the Department of Health (DOH), with general recommendations coming from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Doing so is no small task. We commend the Department’s steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and its commitment to ensuring fast and equitable distribution of a vaccine to all New Jersey communities. Considerable, thoughtful analysis has gone into the categorization of critical populations to receive the initial limited doses. While the details of the dissemination plans continue to evolve, personnel and individuals with I/DD living in congregate care settings such as group homes are included in Group 1A.

A Phased Approach to Vaccine Allocation for COVID-19

A Phased Approach to Vaccine Allocation for COVID-19 | Source: National Academy of Medicine

Autism New Jersey’s Recommendations

Given our community’s unique needs and risks, Autism New Jersey has been in communication with the Department to ensure that our needs are at the forefront of their minds. More specifically, we are requesting:

  • Inclusion of individuals with I/DD in the top priority group

  • Special education personnel prioritized within the education category

The approval and distribution of the vaccine are important milestones that offer hope for all who have been significantly affected by COVID-19. Ensuring the critical needs of individuals with autism are considered — during this process and in all decisions made by state officials that impact our community — remains our priority.

Updates and Additional Info:

1/5/2021:  Online pre-registration is now open on the vaccine portal for state residents who may not yet be a member of one of the priority groups. The site may be experiencing high volume and intermittent outages during its initial launch.

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