It has been over a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Since then, we have struggled with how the virus might impact us or a loved one. We’ve worn masks and isolated ourselves from others. When people got sick and went into the hospital, we could not visit them.
Our brothers and sisters living in nursing facilities have been left alone, and many have passed away without the comfort of friends and family. Our only hope was that scientists would develop an effective vaccine.
On March 3, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp announced that people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their caregivers were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine is a safe and effective way to make sure you don’t get COVID-19 and don’t acquire life-threatening symptoms as a result. Now is the perfect time for ALL of us to get vaccinated. While the governor has announced that many Georgians are eligible, there remain vaccine shortages in many places such as metro Atlanta. It has not been easy, but I know that the vaccine is the best way to begin our journey back to normal.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) remains in close discussions with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) about how people with disabilities can get vaccinated. Visit their website to learn more, and read these questions and answers from DPH for additional information. Bottom line: if you are reading this and have not been vaccinated – please go and get your vaccine.
As we struggle with this 100-year pandemic, we also fight efforts by people attempting to restrict our right to vote. While the virus may have attacked our health, voter suppression attacks our dignity and ability to live self-determined lives. As advocates we must let our elected officials know that we should be expanding opportunities for people to vote, not limiting access. As leaders of the disability movement have chanted for years, disability rights are indeed civil and human rights.
Finally, the Georgia General Assembly has wrapped up another session. It was a session unlike any I have experienced. Most Georgians were not allowed in the Capitol due to COVID-19 restrictions. For many of us, using technology like Zoom allowed us to keep up with activities going on under the Gold Dome. What I do know is that legislators heard you loud and clear. They heard from families concerned about loved ones with significant disabilities being moved from their own homes to get the supports they need. They heard Georgia must try another approach to address the growing Medicaid waiver waiting list that currently includes over 7,000 people.
To assist your advocacy efforts, GCDD premiered “6,000 Waiting,” a short film about three Georgians on the waiting list. One scene told the story about when your advocacy efforts overwhelmed the Capitol telephone system – YOUR EFFORTS. GCDD can provide you information and opportunities to come to the Capitol. But the power to create change does not come from GCDD. It is YOU, the people, who have the power to change the hearts and minds of elected officials. GCDD continues to work to amplify your voice. Learn more about the film and read additional stories from Georgians with disabilities.
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