New Guidance to Ensure and Expand Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Disabilities
The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has published new guidance setting out legal standards and examples of applications of those standards meant to help improve access to COVID-19 vaccines for people with disabilities. The OCR reminds providers that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, civil rights laws remain in effect, including prohibitions on discrimination based on disability. A covered entity may not use eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual or group of individuals with a disability. Covered entities must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability. More specifically, the OCR has published a fact sheet on disability access in vaccine distribution with guidance on how covered entities can ensure that their vaccination programs are accessible to persons with disabilities. This guidance is part of a shared effort by federal agencies to clarify legal requirements and provide resources to help states, vaccination providers, and others to improve access to vaccines for people with disabilities and older adults. More information is available here.