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People with disability must be top priority for COVID vaccine

Image reads NDS Media release

13/11/2020

The national peak body for disability service providers, National Disability Services (NDS), today called upon National Cabinet to ensure people with disability, their families, carers and the workers who support them, are given priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

Responding to media reports that National Cabinet will today confirm that the Health and Aged Care sectors will be given priority access, NDS CEO, David Moody said:

"National Cabinet needs to decide today that people with disability, their families and carers, and the workers who support them feel valued and supported at a time when the risk of COVID outbreaks is real."

"Confining priority access to the health and aged care sectors, both important sectors for so many Australians, would ignore the needs and human rights of hundreds of thousands of other Australians.

"If the disability sector and the people it supports are not given priority access to a vaccine, the message we will draw from this is that the sector and people with disability are a second order priority, that we don’t matter that much. And this is despite the fact that people with disability are more susceptible to the impact of the virus than most other Australians."

Mr Moody said it was vital that people with disability have ongoing access to quality services whilst COVID-19 outbreaks remain a risk around Australia.

"The way to ensure people with disability are able to continue using the disability services they need safely, and that the workers supporting them are able to safely provide these services, is to give the sector priority access to a vaccine; it’s that simple," said Mr Moody.

"During the worst of the pandemic, disability support workers, therapists and other workers and providers were doing everything they could to support Australians with disability, even as the virus swirled around them. Even so, the risks of infection meant that many disability services had to be closed or modified, to ensure the safety of people with disability and workers.

"Governments need to learn from the experience of 2020 and make sure that people with disability and the disability sector get priority access to a vaccine in 2021."

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