Pa. DHS partners with Rite-Aid to launch an initiative to provide vaccines to those affected by autism

Written by on May 5, 2021

Pa. DHS partners with Rite-Aid to launch an initiative to provide vaccines to those affected by autism

By Hayden Mitman

May 5, 2021

FILE – In this July 27, 2020, file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a meeting to discuss the process of approving COVID-19 vaccines. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

People with intellectual disabilities are six times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population, according to a recent Jefferson Health study. 

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The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has partnered with Rite-Aid on an effort aimed at getting vaccines to that demographic. 

The study found that intellectual disability is second only to old age as a risk factor for death from COVID-19. 

“That study also showed that people with intellectual disabilities are two and a half times more likely to get COVID. They are almost three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and are almost six times more likely to die from the infection than the general population,” says Matt Aaron, president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics of Pennsylvania

Aaron also said that this group is historically vaccine hesitant. 

“There are myriad reasons including education, awareness, fear, lack of access,” Aaron says. 

This new effort will set up a call center to allow people with intellectual disabilities or autism, and their caregivers,  a direct line to get the vaccine.

There are at least 57,000 Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities…according to the DHS. The agency couldn’t provide a clear estimate for the vaccination rate of this population. 

For more information, call the new vaccine call center for those with intellectual disabilities or autism at 1-800-424-4345.

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