Media Release: 99.5% of Queenslanders with disability still waiting for their priority 1a vaccinations
Queenslanders with disability and their workers were identified as a priority group to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the Australian rollout, however less than 1% of people with disability in this priority group have received the vaccine. Nationally this total is less that 4%.
People with disability, families, and service providers have been significantly impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. People with disability have faced additional risks to their health if they contract the virus, they have lived through frequently imposed restrictions that have meant they can’t have visitors to their homes, and reduced their in-home support. Many are still self-isolating and minimising their time in the community to lessen the risk of getting COVID-19.
Priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine was an important step forward in recognition of the significant issues if there was an outbreak for people with disability and their support staff. Everyone would be impacted one of these residences. However, the rollout has not occurred and recent evidence at the Disability Royal Commission on Monday 17 May shows the public statistics for the first time.
Queenslanders with Disability Network Board of Directors Chair, Mr Des Ryan said “We have been identified as a priority group by the Commonwealth Government. We are seeing the consequences of this plan failing to be turned into action. To only have 25 Queenslanders with disability vaccinated in this priority group is a great concern. We advocated to make sure we were at the front of the line for the vaccine. We know that most of the residential aged care facilities that were also in the same priority 1a cohort are almost finished. We cannot continue to be pushed to the back of the queue.”
Mr Ryan said, “We have seen the numbers for the first time on Monday for each of the states. Queenslanders with disability and our families and workers need this to urgently change. Information about when, where and how vaccination rollout for people in 1a needs to be made available. Many Queenslanders with disability have been ready since March to start receiving the vaccine however almost 3 months later we are still waiting.”
Queenslanders with Disability Network CEO, Ms Paige Armstrong said, “This is no time for complacency. As we’ve seen in other countries, COVID-19 cases can mushroom quickly and until mass vaccination is achieved, people with disability remain extremely vulnerable. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine is needed now and for people in this priority 1a cohort, getting their vaccine at their place of residence is the most accessible and straight forward.“
Ms Armstrong said, “A lot of preparation and planning in Queensland has gone into place to make sure people with disability can have accurate information about the vaccine and how they will receive it – the ongoing question is when. Queenslanders with disability can’t keep being put on hold and left in the dark about when they are going to get the vaccine. 25 Queenslanders out of approximately 5,400 eligible in this priority group is just not good enough.”
Queenslanders with Disability Network is an organisation with over 2,000 members with disability across Queensland, and informs, connects, leads and influences change for a more inclusive Queensland.