Frontline Initiative: DSPs Respond to COVID-19
It's Your Choice but It's Our Health
The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. It is hard to feel safe. There were times when we New Yorkers were on strict lockdown. Our governor decided that employment programs needed to close, and we had some strict guidelines at the supervised apartment building where I live. My roommate and I talked about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Together we decided to get the vaccine so we could be comfortable and do more things in the community. I did not have any side effects except for a little soreness in my arm.
COVID-19 affected my work and my self-advocacy. From March 19, 2020, until this summer, they closed our day program, and I was not able to be a volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Not being able to travel meant that the board of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State needed to move our meetings online to Zoom. That was hard because we could not be together, and we won’t be able to say goodbye in person to the board members who are leaving this December. For me, COVID-19 has been especially hard because me and my fiancé did not see each other very often. I loved to travel down to Long Island so we could spend a week or the weekend together. I really missed that.
I need to work closely with DSPs. Some are very concerned about our health and want us to be safe during this pandemic. They want COVID-19 to end. The majority of the DSPs who I see did get vaccinated because they want to protect us. We were lucky in my house—knock on wood—and have not had COVID at all. I was worried about individuals in the other houses. Some of them are older people and some are younger, but it can be hard to keep the older people safe from COVID-19. It is very concerning.
It is my goal for all DSPs to get vaccinated. I’m asking direct support professionals to please get vaccinated so we can get back to normal and do what we love to do.
It is my goal for all DSPs to get vaccinated. Some of my DSPs tell me rudely, “Oh, it’s our choice.” I always say nicely, “I understand that’s your choice, but it’s our health.” If they care about us so much, they should get vaccinated.
It makes me frustrated to know that unvaccinated DSPs are working in many other group homes, and that means if anyone in those places has COVID-19, the DSPs could come back and give it to us. Some of them even came to work when they had COVID-19. They need to think about the health of people with disabilities instead of themselves in this situation. It’s frustrating that some of these DSPs don’t want to get vaccinated because of the stories or news reports they hear. I say, rely on CNN, because some of the other news sources are not accurate.
As people with disabilities, we are very much at risk. As an individual, I am tired of wearing a mask and I know others are, too. I’m asking direct support professionals to please get vaccinated so we can get back to normal and do what we love to do.