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People with disabilities continue waiting for COVID-19 vaccines



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – As the state continues to add more groups of people to phase 1B for vaccinations, those in later phases continue to wait on their shots.

One group still waiting for the vaccines is those with disabilities.

John Newman is the Executive Director of Life Styles Inc. in Fayetteville- a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities learn life skills.

“So many individuals that we support have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe consequences if they do contract Coronavirus,” said Newman.

He said his clients and staff, who are considered in the public health field, still have not received the vaccine, and as more people are added into phase 1B, they get pushed back further in line.

“That’s where the CDC said they needed to be and that’s what we’re using until we have a more compelling reason why,” said Program Manager for Arkansas Vaccine Deployment, Col. Robert Ator.

Col. Ator said it is important to remember that groups of people have been put into vaccine phases for a reason.

“I don’t want to put a group ahead of that chemo patient that’s trying to get the shot,” said Col. Ator.

But for Newman, he said we cannot forget that people with special needs are also at high risk.

“We did lose one client after he contracted the coronavirus and there were some complications, so we’re very concerned about our clients and staff,” Newman said.

Col. Ator said the state is trying to find a balance between the most vulnerable and essential workers who keep society going.