Updates from Access Living: Covid Vaccine Q&A on Feb 18; New National Data on HCBS and Covid-19 Risk; NCIL Action Alert


February 16, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Updates from Access Living: Covid Vaccine Q&A on Feb 18; New National Data on HCBS and Covid-19 Risk

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021: Upcoming Covid vaccine Q&A for the disability community, new data on Covid-19 risk and HCBS, and a NCIL action alert on the newest Covid relief package

Today, we have some important updates related to Covid-19 vaccination. We know both prioritization and accessibility in securing Covid-19 vaccines are critical issues for the disability community right now.

Virtual Community Q&A on Vaccination for Chicago/Illinois:

Following on our first virtual town hall about the Covid-19 vaccine for people with disabilities in Illinois, we will be hosting a new town hall this Thursday, February 18, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm Central Time. While our first town hall was heavy on presentations, this town hall will be focused on answering questions from residents in Chicago and in Illinois. Bring your questions about vaccine prioritization and accessibility! (To ask a question ahead of time, please email your question for the panelists to jpalliser@accessliving.org.)

Our confirmed panelists are:

  • Commissioner Rachel Arfa, Chicago Mayor’s Office on People with Disabilities (MOPD)
  • Dr. Rachel Bernard, Medical Director, COVID Response Bureau, Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH)
  • Tamara Mahal, City of Chicago Vaccine Lead and Assistant Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation
  • Dr. Eric Segreti, Rush University Medical Center
  • Allison Stark, Director of the Division on Developmental Disabilities, Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS-DDD)

Thank you to all our panelists for being willing to take questions! Registration is at this link. The Facebook event page is at this link. The event will have ASL, Spanish, and captioning. Please contact Jerome at jpalliser@accessliving.org if you have other questions or disability accommodation requests.

If you missed the first Access Living disability town hall on vaccination, the recording is at this link. If you would like to check out Access Living’s page on Covid resources, see this link.

New National Data on Covid-19 and Home and Community Based Services:

Many of us who advocate in the area of home and community based services (HCBS) know from experience that folks with disabilities who rely on personal care/direct support services tend to have health factors that make them at higher risk of serious consequences from Covid-19. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) has put out a new paper authored by H. Stephen Kaye, Ph.D., who makes the case that people with disabilities who rely on HCBS are in fact multiple times more likely to experience serious illness or death resulting from Covid-19 infection. This is critical information for those working to education public health authorities on vaccine prioritization for HCBS users.

Action Alert: Join Tomorrow’s HCBS Call-In Day

Congress has approved a budget resolution to clear the way to move a COVID-19 relief package forward. This relief package could include a 7.3% increase in funding for home and community based services, and we need to ensure this funding remains in the final relief package!

This funding is critical for keeping people with disabilities out of congregate setting where Covid-19 can spread rapidly.


Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 17, 2021, NCIL and other disability and aging organizations are holding an HCBS Call-In Day. Contact your Representative and tell them how important it is to include dedicated HCBS funding in the COVID-19 relief package!

Here’s how:

  • Call your Representative: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Representative.
  • You can find your Representative’s contact form at house.gov/representatives
  • You can find your Representative’s phone number, Twitter handle, Facebook page, and other contact information on Contacting Congress.
  • You can use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters by texting “RESIST” to 50409. 
  • Use #MedicaidCantWait on social media posts

Read the full NCIL action alert and find a sample script for calling/emailing your reps here.

Please share this information with fellow community advocates. Thank you.