Govt needs to do more to vaccinate disabled community

Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni has completely dropped the ball in getting some of the most vulnerable people in our community vaccinated against Covid-19, National’s Disability spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“It beggars belief that Ministry of Health data shows that only 37 per cent of those with the most compromised health have received their first vaccination, compared to close to 70 per cent of the general population.

“There’s no vaccination strategy in place for our disabled population and the Minister is now in catch up mode.

“Ms Sepuloni told media this week that ‘we need to promote vaccination amongst disabled people,’ but that should have been happening months ago. It’s just another example of how unprepared this Government has been for the arrival of Delta.

“The Government has known how important it is to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect the country against Covid-19 and that includes our disabled community. The Minister should’ve have had a plan to work with advocacy groups, taking vaccinations into disabled workplaces, support centres and the homes of those who live with disabilities.

“We would’ve expected the Minister to make sure isolation facilities were accessible and had plans in place for carer support to be available and all this should have been communicated to our disabled community weeks ago to make sure they didn’t find getting vaccinated or tested too hard.

“Organisations like The Taikura Trust, Autism NZ, special schools and some individual DHBs are undertaking good initiatives to make vaccinations available to our disabled population, but it should never have been left to such a haphazard approach. 

“The Government had enough time to plan and now, at the 11th hour, just simply saying vaccinations for the disabled need to be promoted just isn’t good enough.”