As a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, children are being forced to shoulder an incomprehensible burden of loss. Many children have experienced health issues due to COVID-19 infections or long COVID-19 symptoms. They have also encountered a loss of innocence and protection, as they shoulder the weight of a parent coping with long COVID-19—or worse, the death of a parent or primary caregiver from COVID-19. This loss disproportionately affects young children and children with developmental disabilities because of the increased reliance on their caregivers.
On December 8, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Evusheld (formerly AZD7442) for emergency use in the United States for pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19. The EUA approval seems to provide long-awaited hope for adults and children 12 years of age and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and may not mount an adequate immune response and for those who have been advised against the available COVID-19 vaccines due to severe allergies with components of the vaccine or a history of adverse reactions. However, over the last month, many people have expressed frustration and disappointment with the lack of access to Evusheld and transparency about the distribution process.
Following the lockdown restrictions, telehealth services saw an unprecedented boom nationwide. Within the first few months of 2020 alone, patient adoption saw a 33% jump. This has led experts to predict the telehealth market value to be worth a staggering $185 billion by 2026. And this is no doubt, boosted by the level of convenience and safety that the service provides.
However, while this bodes well for the able-bodied, it is quite the opposite for those with disabilities. In fact, rather than equally empowering those with physical and developmental disabilities, telehealth largely accentuates the gaps in healthcare inclusivity.
The 2021–2022 school year started much differently than the previous school year. While many schools only offered a virtual option for students last year, this year, most students across the country are attending school in person. In the nearly two years since COVID-19 emerged in the United States, many Americans have worn face masks and have been vaccinated to prevent catching the coronavirus. Although there has been progress, the number of COVID-19 cases has remained high. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of October 7, 2021, more than 6 million children have tested positive for the coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic. From September 30, 2021, to October 7, 2021, 148,222 children tested positive for virus, representing 24.8% of the weekly reported COVID-19 cases.
Schools that do not require masking fail to meet the needs of children with disabilities
Based on the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19, and the increasing number of breakthrough infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its masking guidance on July 27, 2021. The CDC continues to recommend that people ages 2 and older and those who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places. In addition, the CDC guidance recommends that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Between June 6-June 8, 2021, the Prenatal Subcommittee of the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities presented a poster about “Addressing Current Gaps in the Provision of Prenatal Testing to Improve Patient Support and Present Disabilities More Equitably” during the virtual gathering of the 25th International Conference on Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy. The poster was prepared by prenatal subcommittee members, Stephanie Meredith, Scotti Brackett, Nikki Watson, and Dr. Marsha Michie. Check out the poster below to learn more about the prenatal themes from the Gap Analysis:
People with disabilities are consistently told they are too expensive to treat when compared to other groups. A metric of determining cost effectiveness of treatments and health services called the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) is yet another tool to make that argument on a larger scale. The QALY is often used to compare the benefits and costs of healthcare interventions. Cost effectiveness analyses based on the QALY are largely developed with intent for their use by insurers and payers to inform the treatments and services that may or may not be covered or subjected to utilization management practices. Advocates have long pushed for consideration of better metrics by payers that reflect the priorities of patients and people with disabilities, hoping to reduce hurdles to appropriate and timely care. As advocates work to understand how the concept of value is defined and used by states and health systems, it is imperative to understand why the QALY metric is discriminatory.
Vaccinations are recommended for children from birth. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)develops recommendations on the use of vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets U.S. adult and childhood vaccinations schedules based on those recommendations. Before leaving the hospital or birthing center, a baby receives the first of three doses of the vaccine that protects against Hepatitis B. Starting at one to two months of age, babies receive six different vaccines: Hepatatis B (second dose), Diptheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP),Haemophilus influezae type b (Hib), Polio (IPV), Pneumococcal (PCV), and Rotavirus (RV).
If you are confused about the vaccine allocation priority groups in your county or state, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first. The CDC’s recommendations are based on those from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts. The ACIP’s vaccine allocation recommendations aim to: (1) decrease death and serious disease as much as possible, (2) preserve functioning of society, and (3) reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.
The Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities invites your blog submissions.
General Submission Guidelines
We are looking for submissions about healthcare inequities faced by people with disabilities and proposed solutions to make healthcare more equitable. We want posts that will educate, inform, empower, and challenge people to think in new ways.
We are open for submissions year-round.
Guest blog posts are usually between 500 and 1,000 words. Please include a short bio and a photograph with your submission.
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Send your 500-to 100-word posts with a suggested title wo [email protected]. Include a brief bio, picture with image description, and social media accounts that you’d like to share.
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The National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality is funded by the Administration for Community Living through funding opportunity number 90NCDE0001-01-00. This website formerly included the work of the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities.