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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Vaccinating Parents and Family Caregivers in California

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of al

 Jackie Fortier at KPCC-FM:

In California, confusion and botched communication has caused some eligible parents and family caregivers of people with disabilities to be turned away at covid vaccination sites.

Oscar Madrigal is one of those caregivers. His two sons are on the autism spectrum and his youngest requires almost constant care.

As the vaccination effort began, Madrigal hoped he and others like him would be prioritized, and he didn’t have long to wait. In January, the California Department of Developmental Services issued a general letter stating that family members like him are considered health workers and immediately qualify for the vaccine.

Through Facebook groups, parents of kids with disabilities excitedly shared the news.

Madrigal was relieved. As his youngest son’s primary caregiver, he didn’t know how his family would cope if he came down with the coronavirus.

But he soon noticed the tone of the messages on social media changed. Parents reported they’d been turned away at the vaccine sites. Only families who receive services from one of California’s regional centers — nonprofits that help people with disabilities — are eligible.

To get vaccinated, caregivers need to show a personalized letter — attesting they are family caregivers of a child with disabilities — from their regional center. Some were mistakenly presenting the more general form letter issued by the Department of Developmental Services from January as proof of their eligibility.