May 17, 2021
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is concerned about the slow rollout of vaccines to people with disability and is calling for greater reporting from the Australian Government.
RACP President Prof John Wilson says “The RACP welcomes today’s hearing by the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) to examine the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination to people with disability and disability support workers.
“Physicians are calling for more transparency in the government’s current method of publishing data on vaccination in the disability sector and the ways they are planning to resolve this issue.
“The government’s daily vaccination updates do not provide comprehensive data about the progress of vaccination of people with disabilties. This may be masking the very low numbers of vaccinations that have been delivered in disability care settings.
“What we do know is that fewer than seven per cent of disability care residents have received at least one dose in the two months since the rollout began1. That’s a very low proportion of people with disability and support workers, despite them being in the priority phases.”
The slow rollout is particularly concerning considering the extra vulnerabilities that people with disability experience.
“People with disability may be at increased risk of developing severe illness due to COVID-19, especially if they also have other conditions including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or obesity2.
“Disability care settings should not be considered to be lower risk than aged care settings. There were more than 70 coronavirus cases recorded in residential disability care at more than 30 sites in Victoria’s second wave in August 20203.
“The government has included them in the first phase for vaccination. It’s vital to acknowledge the additional risks and protect them from severe illness by ensuring the vaccination program is completed as quickly as possible.”
“Additionally, it’s imperative to ensure that vaccination information is accessible so that people with disability, their families, and their carers can disseminate that information and make appropriate decisions to get their vaccine at the earliest possible opportunity.”
1Senate Select Committee on Covid-19, Tuesday 27 April 2021, p.14
2Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Thursday 29 April 2021
3Coronavirus outbreaks grow in Victorian group homes for people living with disabilities, ABC News, Friday 7 August 2020