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MDRC cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression.

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MDRC's Director, Theresa Metzmaker, has written Governor Whitmer to raise the priority level of our community for the Covid Vaccine. Our community has the same risks and needs that higher priority groups, and we need to access the vaccine now.

Copy of the Letter Text:

February 17, 2021 

Dear Governor Whitmer:

Michigan Disability Rights Coalition is requesting an immediate upgrade in vaccine priority status, from 1C to 1B, for all Michiganders with disabilities, aged 16-64 and their support staff and family members who live with or provide personal care to them. 

With the exception of Detroit, the State of Michigan is not prioritizing people with disabilities for vaccines even though they are at far greater risk from serious complications and death from COVID-19. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are three times more likely to die from COVID-19. The mortality rate increases ten times that of non-disabled people if an individual has Down Syndrome. The World Health Organization says, “People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 outbreak due to health, social and environmental barriers, discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible infrastructure.”

While cases have been dropping in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services representative Bob Wheaton said, “We are deeply concerned about the rapid increases we are seeing in the B.1.1.7 variant. B.1.1.7 is more easily spread from person to person. As it spreads, we could see a very rapid rise in cases, with more hospitalizations and, unfortunately, more deaths.” 

People with disabilities who access home and community-based services rely on individuals who come in and out of their homes to provide personal care, these activities cannot be done with social distance. With COVID-19 variants rising, people with disabilities cannot wait for tier 1C. 

COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the health disparities in our state, shining a light on racism and ableism. A vaccine distribution plan needs to reflect the data on death rates and distribute vaccines with equity. Given the commitment your office has made to addressing historic inequities in health care, we hope that our amplification of this risk helps aid in your administration taking swift and unwavering action to save the lives of Michiganders with disabilities; any prioritization otherwise would send a clear and decisive message that the administration does not value the lives of its most vulnerable residents.  

We look forward to you taking action today.

Theresa Metzmaker, MDRC Chief Executive Director 

The MDRC office in East Lansing is closed until further notice in an effort to manage the spread of the Coronavirus, (COVID 19). The office closure will be evaluated on a regular basis. Please see our statement about Corona Virus.

We are providing services to partners and community members via phone, email, teleconferences and social media while staff members work remotely. You can contact us via phone, email and the contact us page on this site.

MDRC has a practice and policy of supporting the people we serve and our staff by asking people who are sick (including staff) not to attend events we are hosting or come to our office.

As people with disabilities ourselves, our community comprises many of the people most at risk of serious effects of the coronavirus. People with weaker immune systems, including those who are pregnant, may be more at risk of catching the virus and having more serious complications. In addition, due to intersectional discrimination, people with disabilities also face additional barriers accessing healthcare.

MDRC is actively tracking the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Michigan Community Health Emergency Coordination Center information on responding to the coronavirus and take their recommendations seriously. Currently, the CDC recommends considering cancelling large work-related meetings or events. MDRC will be following these recommendations in our work.

MDRC is also requiring staff to hold meetings by phone or videoconference. We will be requiring staff not to travel. We are taking these precautions in an effort to protect ourselves and our community and follow the guidelines of knowledgeable, expert, public health leaders.

Additional Information

The Affordable Care Act and the Health Michigan Plan (expanded Medicaid) have not been repealed! MDRC can still help you find affordable health care. Contact our Navigator, Kathleen at 517-333- 2477 x 313.

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Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
3498 East Lake Lansing Road, Suite 100
East Lansing, MI 48823

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