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Health officials launch new efforts to encourage most vulnerable to get vaccinated

Rebecca Baer
Delaware Public Media

About 19% of Americans with disabilities have not received even one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now, the state is launching a new campaign to encourage them and other vulnerable Delawareans to get vaccinated and they’re making it easier than ever.

The Delaware Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with several pharmacies to expand a program that provides COVID vaccinations to people who are homebound.

State health officials joined elected leaders to make the announcement in Wilmington Tuesday.

They’re also launching a new toll-free number for people to use to sign up for the program.

Lt. Governor Bethany Long-Hall said it’s also an opportunity to check on their mental well-being. She says more than 500 Delawareans have already benefited from the Homebound Vaccination Program.

“Once again, Delaware is breaking down barriers, making sure we get vaccinations in arms, that we keep our community safe and our population strong,” she said.

The department is also launching a marketing campaign that features seniors, caregivers and people with disabilities encouraging those populations to get the vaccine.

Benjamin Shrader
Rebecca Baer
Delaware Public Media
Disabilities advocate Benjamin Shrader speaks in support of a program to vaccinate homebound Delawareans alongside Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long and Melissa Smith, Director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities.

Disabilities advocate Benjamin Shrader, who has
cerebral palsy, is one of those featured in the new campaign. He says there’s a lot of misinformation about the vaccine.

“Not only that, but those of us that want to get it but haven’t been able to because of lack of resources or transportation. So that’s really what this initiative we announced today is for,” he said.

Shrader said the vaccine represents “liberation,” not just for people with disabilities, but their families, noting, “They can go on with their lives and have the peace of mind not to worry about me.”

To access the program, which is available to Delawareans ages five and up, call 1-888-491-4988 or visit the Vaccine Access Delaware website.