The days flick through from day to night. Through the window separating safety from danger, people outside galavant as if there is not an omnipresent threat in the air. Masks are berated and used sparingly, parties and large gatherings persist, and people simply ignore the pandemic that has been raging for over a year now: COVID-19.
The approval for widespread use of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was seen as the light at the end of the tunnel for many people. For the disabled community, it was something even more. The complete disregard for disabled and immunocompromised lives throughout the past year was extremely high.
Many people viewed the virus as only affecting the elderly and those with severe underlying conditions, and therefore went on with their lives. With the spread of COVID-19 continuing to increase because of this, many disabled folks had to nonstop quarantine the entire year and limit outside events to a bare minimum.
In California, disabled people are in the 1C tier of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. Overall, nearly all U.S. states have disabled people on a much lower slot on the tier list than they should be.
As a disabled adult, I’ve seen the impact of this subject with my community firsthand. We’ve seen just how little of a regard many have for disabled lives.
Madison Lawson, disabled journalist, spoke on her experiences throughout the pandemic. She has 9% full lung function and she emphasized the points of seeing the ignorance of both the government, as well as able-bodied humans.
“We were told that if certain states ran out of ventilators that people with disabilities would lose their ventilators to non-disabled people in need of one,” Lawson said. “So when the vaccine came out, it really wasn’t shocking that we still didn’t have priority.”
This principle exhibited throughout the pandemic cannot continue.
People must learn to be more empathetic to their disabled neighbors and put aside their selfishness.
The government must listen to the stories of the disabled and understand our plea to be higher on the priority list, not just for vaccinations, but for everything.