At the end of October, Yannis Vardakastanis, the President of the European Disability Forum (EDF) sent an open letter to the presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, drawing attention to the fact that disabled people and disability workers had not been mentioned in the Commission’s documents that listed groups to be prioritized when vaccinations start.
EUCAP shares the concern expressed by EDF that disabled people and the essential support workers, assistants, interpreters and others working with them appear to be invisible to decision-makers in this matter.
We wish to express our endorsement of EDF’s message to the EU authorities, and encourage our member organisations, as well as others advocating for autistic people, to consider the recommendations listed in EDF’s open letter and influence the development of national vaccination strategies wherever possible.
In the coming months, these strategies will affect the safety and basic human rights of numerous autistic people who are unable to manage full social distancing and other protection, or who are otherwise exceptionally vulnerable to infection, for a variety of reasons. Some live in group homes or institutions, or need support workers to visit their homes, while some have learning disabilities or sensory differences that affect their understanding of protective measures or ability to tolerate them.
This is a time for different disability groups to recognize our shared interests, and to work towards universal, fair and lasting policies and principles that can protect us in the current pandemic, as well as in any similar crisis situations we might face in the future.
“We call on you to include persons with disabilities and our representative organisations in the planning for vaccination strategies, and for persons with disabilities, and their support network to be given priority access to safe and reliable vaccinations, free of charge, when they are available.“
(Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, 29.10.2020)
Article on the EDF website: Why has the European Union not included people with disabilities as a priority in the vaccination of COVID19?
European Commission’s Communication on preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment (download pdf)