On the 27th January 2021, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) and Inclusion Europe launched easy-to-read and free information documents about the COVID-19 vaccination in 14 languages. This followed EASPD’s Webinar on “COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment: What Role for Support Services” which highlighted the key role played by support services in relation to the vaccination of social care staff and of many persons with disabilities; in particular those with intellectual disabilities. Key messages from the webinar referred to prioritization beyond simple age-requirements and to ensure the correct information about the vaccine reaches all parts of the population.
Europe is continuing to experience significant challenges due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the creation of multiple vaccines is providing hope to millions, in particular those who have been most affected by the pandemic. This includes millions of persons with disabilities, as well as the millions of professionals who provide care and support.
Public Authorities are currently planning for and organising the deployment of the COVID19 vaccines across the continent. The European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) have recently published a technical report to guide EU Member States on the development of their vaccination and prioritisation strategies (22.12.2020). The European Commission has also recently (19.01.2020) set clear targets, in particular to vaccine a minimum of 80% of health and social care staff by March.
Service providers for Persons with Disabilities are also playing an active role in the vaccination process, in terms of communication, prioritisation and deployment; both towards their staff and for those using their services.
To discuss this role, the challenges and the methods used, EASPD organised an online Webinar on “COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment: What Role for Support Services?” on Wednesday, 27th January, which brought together experts from the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), Inclusion Europe and from national service providers from Austria, Finland, Israel and Switzerland. For EASPD, the webinar led to three main conclusions:
- Firstly, that prioritisation of the COVID-19 vaccine should go beyond simple age-related indicators and consider the specific risks for certain target groups; with persons with learning disabilities for instance at considerably higher risk than the general population. It is clear that in many countries, the situation of many persons with disabilities is insufficiently considered within the prioritisation process.
- Secondly, that social care and support workers for persons with disabilities are essential workers and should be on the priority list, as has been recommended by the European Commission. The logic of prioritising workers in residential institutions alone does not always make sense given the complex nature of the field of services for persons with disabilities and the needs of those who use such services.
- Thirdly, that as the deployment of COVID-19 vaccine relies on informed consent for all people, all stakeholders – but in particular policy-makers – should ensure that the correct information reaches all parts of the population in a way that is accessible for all; including for persons with learning disabilities. For this reason, EASPD and Inclusion Europe have developed an easy-to-read document explaining the COVID-19 vaccination process in 14 languages and soon more. We strongly urge the European Institutions (and others) to promote this easy-to-read documents within their communication channels.
As always, EASPD is available to help our partners and stakeholders in the implementation of these three main conclusions, in particular with the European Institutions.
- Easy-to-read information on COVID-19 vaccination in 14 languages
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,COVID-19 vaccination and prioritisation strategies in the EU/EEA (2020)
- European Commission, Key actions for a united front to beat COVID-19 (2021)
- Webinar presentaions: Inclusion Europe, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Beit Issie Shapiro
Note to editors
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 17,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.
For more information please contact:
EASPD Operations Manager
EASPD Policy Manager