PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was a day more than a year in the making for people who were vaccinated at Jefferson Hospital’s COVID-19 clinic, but hospital officials say some people in certain communities are still being ignored.
“My arm hurts, but that’s about it,” Rachel Kalner said. “It was pretty anti-climactic.”READ MORE: Tolls Increasing Sunday On 8 Delaware River Crossings Connecting Pennsylvania, New Jersey
There were no thrills at Jefferson Health’s vaccine clinic at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia on Saturday. Kalner, 25, got their vaccine, and because it’s the Johnson & Johnson, it’s one-and-done, and they are fully vaccinated. All of those who were vaccinated Saturday are living with intellectual disabilities.
“I don’t plan on going out that much, but it will be nice to at least see my friends in person again once we’re all vaccinated,” Kalner said.
The plan is to vaccinate about 50 people with intellectual abilities, but it wouldn’t be possible without a change in city and state policies.
“It’s important when we think about diversity to include disability, and that everyone matters,” Dr. Wendy Ross with Jefferson Health said.READ MORE: Man Dies After Being Shot Four Times In West Oak Lane, Philadelphia Police Say
When vaccination plans were drafted, intellectual disabilities were not considered for when a person can get their dose. Kalner is living with ADHD and would not have gotten their shot on Saturday if policies weren’t rewritten.
“Traditionally, the population with intellectual disabilities, and also autism and other developmental disorders, is a largely ignored population and sort of invisible, so our goal at the Center for Autism and Neurodiversity is to make the invisible visible,” Ross said.
According to research released by Jefferson Health’s Center for Autism and Neurodiversity, people with intellectual disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to contract COVID and nearly six times more likely to die from COVID than the general population.
“We did the research that demonstrated the need,” Ross said. “We used the research to change the policy and now, we’re providing the practice to make the vaccination available.”
So, while Kalner doesn’t have huge plans, they say getting the vaccine is a huge weight off their shouldersMORE NEWS: Fall Full-Capacity Concerts, Xfinity Live! Preparing To Reopen Has Philadelphia's Stadium District Buzzing With Energy
“Just for my peace of mind,” they said.