SARC URGES VACCINE PRIORITY
FOR DISABILITY SERVICE SECTOR
February 3, 2021
For months, SARC and our Members have been calling for the Government of Saskatchewan to prioritize people experiencing an intellectual disability that live in group homes and the dedicated employees that support and care for them in its vaccine roll-out plans.
On January 14, 2021, the Saskatchewan Health Authority released the document COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Framework for Healthcare Workers and Vulnerable Populations. It defined Vulnerable Populations as “those at high risk for severe illness and death, those most likely to transmit to those at high risk, and those in living or working conditions with elevated risk for infection or disproportionate consequences from Covid-19”. This sequencing framework identified three sub-phases within Phase 2. Phase 2a identified residents and staff of shared living settings including group homes and congregate living arrangements (not long-term care or personal care homes, as those are included in Phase 1). This framework provided a great deal of comfort to thousands of individuals experiencing an intellectual disability and their families as well as to those working in the Disability Service sector. However, the document has since been removed from the website and SARC has been told that the document is currently under review.
Positive cases, outbreaks and deaths are on the rise in the Disability Service sector. While congregate living increases the risk of widespread transmission in a home, individuals experiencing an intellectual disability have increased risks. A study from New York, Landes et al., (2020) has determined that the mortality rate for individuals with intellectual disabilities living in group homes is 8 times higher than the general population. Another prominent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that individuals with Down Syndrome have a significantly increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 related complications. The COVID-19 mortality rate among adults with Down syndrome is 10X higher than adults without Down syndrome. It is also proven that people experiencing an intellectual disability often develop high-risk medical conditions in their 30’s and 40’s that are typically seen by people in their 70’s. A recent Canadian study, Campanella et al, (2021) recommends that adults with an intellectual disability should be prioritized in Canada’s vaccine distribution plan, due to a higher risk for severe outcomes due to COVID-19.
“SARC has over 100 Member organizations that are located in approximately 50 communities across Saskatchewan. Our Members employ over 3400 employees to support over 5400 people experiencing disability,” said SARC Executive Director, Amy McNeil. “Homes in the Disability Service sector support and care for some of Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable and immuno-compromised people”.
“Group homes in the Disability Service sector have similar risks to Personal Care Homes that are licenced under the Ministry of Health”, said SARC Board President, Dawn Desautels. “We are asking Government to prioritize within Phase 2 this very vulnerable segment of the population and the people that work tirelessly every day to support and care for them.”
To learn more about SARC and its Members visit the SARC website at https://www.sarcsarcan.ca/members
For more information, contact:
Phone: 306-933-0616 ext. 236