Vaccine Voices: ‘As a person with a disability, I felt very fortunate’

Daniel Alrick had some pain in his arm after his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but, he says, it was “no worse than a flu shot.”

“As a person with a disability, I felt very fortunate,” he says. “Everything was arranged; the only thing we were responsible for was transportation.”

He managed to carpool for the drive from Ashland to Medford, where he and everyone in his apartment was vaccinated.

“In our living situation, we have a lot of shared space. We were very proud that for all of the last year no one got the virus. It was good all getting vaccinated together.”

Daniel was one of several people with developmental disabilities we spoke with about getting vaccinated. As self-advocates, they help themselves and others make informed life choices.

“There’s so many lies circulating about the vaccine,” says Gabrielle Guedon, “but our self advocacy groups gave people the facts so they could make the right choice for themselves.”

She needed help navigating the process to get an appointment but says that after receiving the vaccine, “I feel less isolated.”

The fact that adults with developmental disabilities are prioritized in vaccine sequencing, she adds, “made me feel valued.”

Sherri Osborn (below, left) went with her provider to the Portland airport for her shot. A wait of more than three hours meant that they had to drive to a store to find a bathroom. “Move your arm around a lot, after,” she advises. “It helps with soreness.”

Eddie Plourdes (above, right) is chair of the self-advocacy caucus of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. He used a wheelchair to travel the short distance from his care home to a clinic to get his first shot.

He is passionate about getting the word out to people in the disability community that they are eligible for the vaccine but cautions, “We need to wear our masks till everybody is vaccinated.”

He is looking forward to the day when “I can see everybody’s smiles without their masks.”

This article first appeared in the Feb. 17, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.