Landmark legislation, such as The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and more recently the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, have for decades worked to prohibit discrimination against people living with disabilities in several areas, including access to state and local government’ programs and services. Yet, individuals living with disabilities continue to face barriers to access and true representation in government policies and processes. These barriers have been amplified throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, including during COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.
Health leaders from The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s (LADPH) Center for Health Equity are working to address those barriers and improve vaccination accessibility. In partnership with key community stakeholders with lived experience and organizations that serve communities with disabilities, LADPH staff have co-developed and are working to implement a set of core recommendations to improve access to COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals living with disabilities. The recommendations developed are a recognition of the urgent need to develop processes and systems to improve accessibility for communities with disabilities throughout Los Angeles County. The recommendations developed focus on centering the experience of individuals with disabilities and work to ensure that the processes for vaccine distribution go beyond the legal requirements outlined in the ADA, and work to truly ensure access to vaccines and other vital government services for all. While the recommendations and current partnership efforts address current COVID-19 vaccination efforts, these recommendations may also be applied to COVID-19 testing and broader emergency response activities both during COVID-19 and beyond. In this video, we are joined by Heather Jue Northover, LADPH Center for Health Equity Director and Hector Ochoa, Director of Public Policy for the Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living, as they discuss the importance of centering individuals with lived experience in designing vaccine distribution solutions that truly work for all.