Vaccine Equity for People with Disabilities

On today’s show, we look at the movement here in California to grant people with significant disabilities priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine. Studies show that people with certain physical or developmental disabilities are up to three times more likely to die from Covid-19 as compared to the general population. And yet, it wasn’t until February 12 that Governor Newsom announced that people with significant disabilities and people who have underlying health conditions will be eligible to receive the vaccine in California. And this eligibility isn’t even effective until March 15. The announcement was made only after massive outcry and a massive mobilization campaign by people with disabilities in the state.

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We’re joined by two leaders of that campaign. Brandie Sendziak is the Supervising Attorney at Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco and was one of the key forces behind the #NoBodyIsDisposable movement, which she will tell us about. Brandie supervises ILRCSF’s legal services program, which offers representation for individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 to 59 who reside in San Francisco. Brandie is also the Legal Director of the Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education Project.

Aaron Carruthers also joins us. Aaron is the executive director of the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities. SCDD was created by Congress to find and remove barriers that keep people with disabilities from living as fully integrated members of the community. Aaron has been working on policy in the state government for over two decades, in the assembly, the state senate, and for two administrations. SCDD has been working closely with Disability Rights California, Disability Voices United, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and the California Foundation of Independent Living Centers to mobilize the community around the vaccine access issue.