Don't forget the disabled
• 3 vaccinated yesterday despite hurdles • Hope Gov't will take jab to physically challengedFriday, September 17, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Arthritic, blind, and wheelchair bound, three residents of Granville who yesterday got vaccinated against COVID-19 are pleading for the Government to ensure that disabled Jamaicans can also get their jabs.
“Go for the people dem, go fi the people dem wah cyaan walk. You have to communicate with them more and find a solution,” pleaded 51-year-old Andrea McKenzie whose arthritis makes it hard for her to move around. She was among the people bussed to and from the Granville All-Age School vaccination site by Councillor Michael Troupe.
McKenzie is convinced there are many disabled people across the country who have even greater challenges than she does — hurdles that keep them away from the vaccine.
“[The Government] have to do it the same way [how] they would come for us to go and vote. Get a bus and shuttle them in and carry them home back. More people want to take it but dem cyaan walk to the sites and dem nuh have anybody fi bring dem,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
The Andrew-Holness-led Administration has given a commitment to taking the vaccine into communities, to reach those unable to travel as well as the vaccine hesitant. Local representatives, like Troupe, have since been providing transportation for people who need it to get to vaccination sites.
Yesterday Godfrey Downer, an elderly blind man, told the Observer that due to his disability he had to play the waiting game until a COVID-19 vaccination blitz was being held in his community. He was one of the first people to register for the COVID-19 vaccination drive at Granville All-Age School, he said.
He believes that many of his peers, especially those at the Jamaica Society for the Blind's (JSB) Montego Bay Chapter, are also playing this dangerous waiting game.
Downer said that while he will try his best to encourage other members of the JSB to get vaccinated against the virus, he is appealing for assistance to make this possible.
“When I go back to meeting next month, I am going to encourage all of them to come and take it. But I would like for someone to try and help them because many of them would like to come, but they do not have anybody to take them out,” he said.
“I don't know if the Government could have somebody bring the members from the Montego Bay chapter to get vaccinated. I believe [that] it is a great benefit for disabled people to take [the vaccine],” he added.
Paulette Baker shares his views on the importance of vaccinating the disabled. After suffering a stroke some years ago, the 61-year-old now uses a wheelchair to go about her daily life as she can no longer walk.
She said she was overcome with joy on learning that there was going to be a vaccination blitz in her community. This, she said, meant that she could finally get vaccinated against the deadly virus, something she had been longing to do.
She believes there are many others in her shoes.
“A lot of people are [disabled], it might not be because of a stroke, but they cannot walk. I would like to see the community get together and see if they can come out for the disabled people [living there],” she said.
“[If] they are your relatives, talk to them and [help] them to come out and get the vaccine,” she urged.
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