On the second day of vaccinations at The Arc in Prince George’s County, an effort to get the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the intellectually and developmentally disabled community was underway.
The Arc is one of the most comprehensive support providers for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families, with more than 700 chapters nationwide, according to the organization’s website.
“It’s a vulnerable population,” Rob Malone, the executive director of the Prince George’s County chapter, said. Statistically, members of the community are also three times more likely to die from COVID-19. “People with developmental disabilities often have other comorbidities or other compromising health concerns.”
There are also concerns over spreading the virus among caregivers, who can already be in high-risk categories themselves.
For people who receive services at The Arc, life can be particularly tough under COVID-19 restrictions not just because of their susceptibility to the virus, but also because of the change in routine.
Ann Manns is a mother who said her daughter would “normally go out in the community and socialize and interact with people because she’s a very people-oriented individual.” Because of the pandemic, the routine that was everything for her and her family has changed drastically.
“We have some folks that we support in residential who haven’t hugged their family in a whole year. In fact, haven’t been in the same vicinity for a year because we couldn’t allow visitors in group homes,” Malone said.
The first of two vaccine shots means that a return to those important things, like hugs from loved ones, outings and meeting people, can’t be too far off for the 1,500 people The Arc will eventually vaccinate.
“I think this clinic is really about love and family, so what you see when people walk out of the building is a smile because they know they’re closer to being able to spend more time with people they love,” Malone said.