The New Brunswick Coalition of Person with Disabilities is calling on the province to prioritize people with disabilities in its vaccine rollout schedule.
The group’s vice-president, Murielle Pitre, said people with disabilities often have other health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to the coronavirus which should be taking into consideration in the province’s vaccine plan.
“I think that we should figure somewhere on the schedule and the reality is that we are just not,” said Pitre.
She said the coalition supports the decision to have health-care and senior-care workers and seniors at the top of the list to receive the vaccine. But she says people with disabilities should be included among the vulnerable population.
“Many people with disabilities have lung issues. For example, I have scoliosis and my lungs don’t function at 100 per cent.”
Mike Parker of Moncton was born with cerebral palsy and also suffers from a heart and lung condition, which he said leave him more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“In my case, it is a heart and lung disorder, which scares the heck out of me and that is why I don’t go out that much,” he said.
He said that as a person with a disability, he feels overlooked in the province’s vaccine rollout plans.
“Us the disabled, we are not even mentioned, so it is upsetting,” he said.
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People with disabilities are also not specifically listed in Nova Scotia’s vaccine rollout plans.
Pitre said many people with disabilities have been housebound for months, which is impacting their mental health.
“Many people have been isolating since last year, I mean, since the beginning of the pandemic because they are afraid to go out,” she said.
Pitre said has spoken to her local MLA several times on the matter but hasn’t heard back yet.
“We are waiting on a response,” she said.
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, Shawn Berry, said in an email to Global News that long-term care workers and residents and health-care workers are the priority and the province “will be providing more details in the coming weeks about the next groups in its vaccination roll out plans.”
Meanwhile, Parker said his shot cannot come soon enough.
“I am afraid that if I get (COVID-19) chances are I can’t say if I would survive or not. It is 50/50 with me,” he said.
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