Winter in Maine can be a long few months, especially when it comes to getting sick. Colds, flus, and respiratory illnesses are all more common, and people are indoors more often, making it easier for sickness to spread. With COVID-19, flu, and RSV all increasing in recent months, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on vaccines. Vaccines help us not only to protect ourselves, but also to protect our family and friends. Let’s get through this winter COVID-19 and flu free!
Currently, everyone six months or older should get at least one updated COVID-19 vaccine. People who are immunocompromised can get an additional COVID-19 vaccine. (Not sure if you are immunocompromised? Now is a good time to reach out to your healthcare provider and ask.) And since COVID-19 and flu shots can be given at the same time, you might consider getting both in one appointment to save time, travel, and hassle.
But, what if getting a vaccine isn’t so easy? DRM knows that people with disabilities experience many barriers when trying to access healthcare, including getting vaccines. In fact, a recent study found that people with disabilities are more likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine, but less likely to actually get one due to barriers like inaccessible offices, trouble scheduling appointments, or a lack of transportation.
There are resources that can help. For example, if you have unreliable transportation or trouble moving or walking, planning a trip to the pharmacy or the doctor’s office can be difficult. It might be easier to get a vaccine in the comfort and safety of your own home instead. In Maine, this option exists. There are programs that provide in-home COVID-19 and flu vaccines for people who have trouble leaving home. One is the Age Wise Maine At Home Vaccination program. For other people, it may simply be a struggle to find a vaccine appointment somewhere close by. Many pharmacies do now offer vaccine appointments across Maine; however, many require online appointment sign ups which can be tough to navigate - especially for those who do not have internet or computer access.
Good news - DRM is here to assist. DRM’s Health Communicator, Lane Simsarian, is available to ensure that people with disabilities have access to vaccines, treatments, or testing. DRM can assist by:
- Helping to find or register for vaccine appointments near you;
- Arranging for in-home vaccines for people who have difficulty leaving their home;
- Requesting accommodations for vaccine appointments (for example, ASL interpreters, captioning, clear masks, or large print forms);
- Finding free vaccinations if you do not have insurance;
- Answering general questions and sharing resources for vaccines, treatments, and testing.
Anyone with questions or requests for assistance can contact Lane at email@example.com or (207) 626-2774 x263.
Vaccines still offer the best protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19 or flu. For those who do get sick, unvaccinated people are far more likely to end up in the hospital. People who are over 60, or who have health issues, are particularly at risk.
Stay healthy this winter. Remember to:
- Get your COVID-19 and flu vaccine
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands often
- Stay home if you are sick and get tested
- Consider wearing a mask in crowded areas