People with different levels of disabilities are at a high risk of being infected with COVID-19, but they have been left out of the priority list for vaccination, advocates said yesterday, urging health authorities to do something about it.
Taiwan has more than 1.2 million people with physical or mental disabilities, but most of them are not eligible for a COVID-19 jab under groups 5 and 9 of the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) vaccine priority list, Lin Chin-hsing (林進興), chairman of the Taoyuan-based Spinal Cord Injury Development Center, told an online news conference organized by Taiwan People’s Party legislators Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) and Ann Kao (高虹安).
Group 5 refers to residents and caregivers at long-term care facilities or disability service centers, while Group 9 covers people aged 19 to 64 who are seriously injured, have a rare disease or at high risk of contracting a serious illness.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan People’s Party
“Right now most people with physical or mental disabilities are not included in these [two groups], and they have to wait for their age group to get inoculated. They are at a high risk of infection, but many still have to go out to work, so they are tormented by the current situation,” Lin said.
Spinal Cord Injury Federation chairman Chen Shan-hsiu (陳善修) said he had sent the Ministry of Health and Welfare a letter on June 22 asking for people with serious disabilities who need home care, as well as their primary caregiver and family members, to be included in the priority list.
“However, we have yet to receive a response,” he said. “We are in dire need of protection, but we are being ignored by the central authorities.”
Questioning the criteria for inclusion on the priority list, the League for Persons with Disabilities, ROC-Taiwan, chairman Liu Ching-chung (劉金鐘) asked if fundamental human rights and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health were taken into consideration.
“The list is unfair,” he said, calling for a review of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and for the CECC to consult experts in each field before making a decision.
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