By Pris Rogers and Judy Shanley, Ph.D.
We are all concerned these days about what to do about getting a vaccine for COVID-19. Visual impairment adds to the stress and difficulty involved in registering to get vaccinated as well as obtaining transportation for the vaccine. In this post we provide some suggestions to help you and your loved ones with this very critical situation.
CDC Information about Vaccines for COVID-19
Side Effects. According to the CDC, you may experience side effects such as redness, soreness, or swelling in the arm where you had the shot or tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. These symptoms may be more intense after the second shot. You will need to check with your health provider and ask if you can take ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, or antihistamines after your shot to reduce symptoms. The CDC advises not to take these before your vaccine. Drink fluids and use a clean, wet washcloth on the site of the vaccine.Further, the CDC advises, “Side effects after your second shot may be more intense than the ones you experienced after your first shot. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away within a few days.”
Allergic Reactions. Read the CDC guidelines about allergic reactions to the vaccine to ensure you understand them fully and know what to do about reactions to the first or second vaccine.
Life After Vaccination. The CDC advises you to continue to take precautions, stay 6 feet away, wear a mask, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer, clean and disinfect, avoid crowds. The good news is that after you have been fully vaccinated and after two weeks, according to the CDC, there are some positive changes you can look forward to:
- You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- If you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, if you live in a group setting and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.”
Because we are all still learning about this virus it is important to with the CDC and your state and local health departments to keep up on the latest recommendations.
Signing Up for a Vaccine
The CDC offers a search tool to find a vaccine provider in your area, which is accessible using a screen reader. The search function provides a drop-down state by state listing. It also provides a vaccine lister by zip code: https://vaccinefinder.org/search/.
You can also try calling your local pharmacy or health department. Many pharmacies are now offering the vaccine. Additionally, according to the US Access Board, FEMA is now providing vaccine resources and information for people with disabilities through setting up Community Vaccination Centers across the country. FEMA provides live on-demand American Sign Language interpreters at all federally supported community vaccination centers during their hours of operation. For further details on each region’s Disability Integration Specialist, contact FEMA at FEMA-Disability-Integration-Coordination@fema.dhs.gov.
Inaccessibility of Vaccine Websites
Many of the websites for signing up for vaccines are not accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired. The National Federation of the Blind is conducting a survey to learn about your experience.
Getting Transportation for a Vaccine
by Judy L. Shanley, Ph.D., Asst. VP, Education & Youth Transition, EasterSeals Director, National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM)
Questions to Ask When Looking for Transportation for Vaccines
When reaching out to organizations about transportation access to COVID-19 vaccines, questions to ask can include:
- Are there any transportation services, including public or private providers, available in my community to take me to vaccination sites?
- Who is providing this service?
- Who is eligible to receive this service?
- Is there a cost to this service?
- What is the time schedule for these services?
Resources for Transportation
National Center for Mobility Management Transportation Access to Vaccines
Lack of transportation may pose barriers to individuals accessing vaccination sites. In many places, the local transportation system has stepped up to address these challenges. For instance, in somecommunities, the local transit agency is providing free service to vaccination sites. In other communities,transit vehicles are being used as a mobile vaccination service, bringing health care professionals and vaccines to communities where individuals may have difficulty in traveling to vaccination sites. A Federal technical assistance center, the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) maintains a database of those places that support transportation access to vaccines. Check to see if your local transitagency provides this service.
Other Transportation Resources
If you do not see your local transit agency included in this database, there are ways for you to learn about transportation options that may be available in your community. Public health agencies and community health centers work closely with human service organizations and identify challenges to individuals getting vaccines. Lack of information about the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine, limitedknowledge about where to get the vaccine, and transportation challenges continue to be the obstacles that inhibit vaccination.
If you are an older adult or have a disability, you can learn about transportation resources in your community through the Eldercare locator at 800-677-1116 or go to their website:https://eldercare.acl.gov.
You can also call your local public health agency or transportation agency to learn about transportation services. AARP also provides state specific information about vaccination sites, and some states describetransportation services or offer resource information to learn more about sites.
Public transportation providers in communities are not the only transportation entities that are stepping up to the plate to provide transportation service to those who have difficulty accessing vaccination sites. Lyft, a private ride sharing service, has entered a partnership with the National Council on Aging in 5 areas of the country to provide free transportation. Here is a description of the project: “Lyft is piloting the project with NCOA member senior centers AgeOptions, Oak Park, Ill.; Brookline Senior Multi-Service Center and Transportation Resources, Planning & Partnership for Seniors (TRIPPS), Brookline, Mass.; and Jewish Family Service of San Diego and On the Go, Calif. The centers will receive a grant donation to support distribution of $15 and $25 Lyft ride credits to share with caregivers who need access to transportation to deliver essential food and supplies to older adults staying home to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus.” Lyft has also launched a new nationwide website to help people get rides for vaccines:
Another private provider that is working with local community leaders to offer transportation service isVia Transportation. Although currently the service is limited to three US Cities, including Miami, Fl,Wilson, NC, and Gainesville, GA, as communities continue to address transportation barriers to vaccination for their residents, services offered by private providers, such as Lyft and Via, are likely to grow.
Private providers are important to consider as communities seek to facilitate access to vaccines. Community residents can encourage local public health agencies to consider all these options – public or private transportation providers, to ensure that the health and well-being of citizens, and reducing transportation challenges is a priority.
The White House has launched the COVID-19 Community Corps, a group of community organizations, local leaders and more supporting a new national public health campaign – “We Can Do This” – intended to increase vaccine confidence and reinforce basic COVID-19 prevention.
Univision Communications, Inc. has launched a national bilingual vaccine hotline as part of its Unidos Por Los Nuestros (United For Each Other) COVID-19 campaign. Individuals can call the hotline every weekday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time to find accurate information about the vaccine and how to sign up for an appointment: 1-833-868-2667. Learn more about this hotline here.