Frontline Initiative: DSPs Respond to COVID-19
NADSP Takes Part in Nationwide Initiative to Improve Vaccination Rates Among DSPs
I am proud to report that the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has been selected as one of nine national organizations to receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through a cooperative agreement with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). The comprehensive nationwide campaign will help improve the vaccination rates of the direct support workforce and people with disabilities.
According to a recent survey conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration, 74% of DSPs reported that they are vaccinated against COVID-19. While we are grateful for the commitment of DSPs to prevent severe infection and the spread of COVID-19, the fact remains that 26% of DSPs who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reported being unvaccinated. In order to really move forward and put this pandemic behind us and support people in full community life, we must do better.
NADSP will conduct targeted vaccine outreach activities in the disability community to increase vaccination rates among people of all ages with disabilities, their family caregivers, and DSPs. More specifically, in the next twelve months, NADSP will:
- Collect information through qualitative research to better understand the barriers (environmental, cultural, socioeconomic, attitudinal) that prevent DSPs and people with disabilities from accessing the COVID-19 vaccine or employing other preventative measures.
- Work with federal partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop, validate, and disseminate effective health communication strategies to improve vaccine uptake among DSPs and encourage them to adopt other best practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Launch a national public health education campaign. The campaign will focus on DSPs and other direct care workers, as well as the individuals with significant disabilities who they support, to encourage vaccinations and other preventative measures against COVID-19 across this target population.
- Facilitate a virtual community platform for DSPs and other direct support workers to ask questions, seek information, and receive educational resources related to COVID-19, along with preventative measures that ensure accurate, data-driven information is shared with the target population. The platform will also link DSPs to local vaccination clinic sites for them to register for a vaccination and/or booster shot.
- Identify and summarize key learning and promising practices regarding strategies for changing the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of DSPs, other direct care workers, and persons with disabilities toward adopting COVID-19 preventative measures.
With 26% of DSPs unvaccinated, there remains so much work to do and information to share about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. As our Code of Ethics states, DSPs must encourage personal growth and recognize the autonomy of individuals with disabilities receiving support while being attentive and energetic in reducing the risk of harm.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, NADSP has been providing DSPs with a variety of toolkits, resources, and webinars with healthcare experts to share timely, trusted, and well-researched information. In this way, we remain committed to informing the direct support workforce and the disability community about the safety and efficacy of available vaccines. We look forward to partnering with DSPs and other national organizations to improve vaccination rates among our essential workforce.