Dear Parents and Friends,
Many of you have reached out to me to ask about when your loved ones will be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. I have waited to answer because the information I am being given is sketchy at best and changes frequently. By sharing it too soon I have confused you more at a time when clarity is important.
The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities has been trying to coordinate with the two local health departments (Mahoning County and Youngstown Public Health) in an effort to streamline this process and get the maximum number of people vaccinated in the shortest period of time. They are including the providers in this discussion and enlisting our help to make it happen. When we first had discussion with the County Board, we thought everyone with a disability would be included in Phase 1A. Then we came to find out it was only for folks in a ‘congregate setting’ (group home), which in effect kicked out anybody living at home with their families. Those people, we were told, would be included in Phase 1B, which is supposed to begin soon, but no one has given us a starting date.
Yesterday we received this from Emily Martinez, Director of Community Services at the Mahoning County Board of DD. As you read it, I want you to note the words that I have underlined, as this may disqualify some persons with developmental disabilities. Once again, this is not ‘everyone’ in the DD system, only those with significant medical diagnosis – which is not described.
Phase 1B is right around the corner. For us phase 1B is individuals receiving services with specific, significant medical diagnoses and for individuals aged 65 and over. We have a list of 547 people that qualify for phase 1B. SSAs will be contacting those folks and getting their consents. Our county board will be submitting consents to the health departments for review to assure they are cleared for vaccination. After that we will be scheduling clinics for vaccination. Please note this round does not include day program or direct support staff that work with these individuals.
My best advice is to wait to be contacted by your SSA with directions. I have had many parents tell me they attempted to call the Health Departments and it has been impossible to get anyone on the phone. By the way, I had NO idea there are two departments of health in our area; The Youngstown Public Health Department and the Mahoning County Health Department. Based on your zip code, you will be referred to one of their locations.
As far as physically getting to the vaccination site – we will work with you! If you are unable to take your individual, we will. If your appointment is in the middle of the day and you want to meet us there, no problem. I went to the Youngstown Health Department site on Otis Street and I was impressed with how organized and well run the clinic was. The nurses were kind and patient and the facility was clean and spacious. Brit said the clinic on Westchester for the Mahoning zip codes was equally organized.
Finally, please let us know if you or someone in your household has tested positive for Corona Virus – As soon as possible! We have done everything in power to protect those who attend No Limits and we need your continued support to keep everyone safe and healthy. Please do your part.
As always, I am here to help answer your questions or direct you to the proper person who can help. Believe me, I know how confusing this is and I am never too busy to take your call or answer your email.