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Stevie reflects on COVID-19 vaccine and how it is not accessible for all

Stories | November 25, 2021 | Author: Stevie Wills

Sadness weighed in my chest as I waited at the vaccination hub. I was keenly aware that many people around the world do not have access to COVID-19 vaccinations that I do in Australia.

I am devastated to know that millions of people have been pushed into poverty as a result of the pandemic. People with disabilities are among those who are most vulnerable. They are two or three times more likely to die from COVID-19 and yet they face barriers to healthcare, and access to critical health information about social restrictions and community vaccinations.

Yam is a 11-year-old boy who has clubfoot. He lives with his grandmother in Nepal and was completely reliant on her. He loves going to school. To get to school, his grandmother would carry him on her back for an hour per day.

Yam’s family managed to get him access to treatment for his clubfoot. But when the pandemic hit, he could no longer access regular healthcare services, including follow-up appointments concerning his foot. Yam could no longer go to school. The social security allowance that he and his grandmother relied on ceased to be given out.

As well as being vaccinated, during the last 18-months I’ve had access to healthcare. Due to my cerebral palsy, my neck and shoulder muscles get tight, making it difficult to sleep, focus on my work, and enjoy simple things. I am so grateful I’ve been able to continue to see my chiropractor fortnightly during the pandemic to maintain my wellbeing. I’ve faced additional tension and instability in my muscles and movements this year. Every task was much more difficult, and I couldn’t get into a restful state. I have freely accessed my doctor who has helped to restore calm and rest to my body.

Health services that are deemed essential in Australia, are sometimes considered non-essential in other countries. Sadly, in countries like Yam’s, lockdowns and the fear of the virus mean that a lot of ‘non-essential’ health services have been put on hold.

It is crucial that vaccinations be distributed to low to middle income countries so that access to essential healthcare and services can be restored. Along with distribution into communities who live in poverty, access to vaccinations must be made for those who are most vulnerable, including people with disabilities.

Join our community of change-makers on International Day of People with a Disabilities, 3 December, as we raise awareness of the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability and help us build back a #betterworldforall

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