Restrict unvaccinated travel to protect disabled

By Tom Ravlic

October 28, 2021

Samantha Connor
Samantha Connor (People with Disability Australia)

The New South Wales government should continue restricting travel to low-vaccinated regions, to protect disabled and vulnerable people, a leading disability advocacy body has said.

People with Disability Australia said continuing travel restrictions for low-vaccinated regions should be accompanied by other measures, such as greater access to booster jabs so that vulnerable people in the community can be better protected from the coronavirus.

PWDA is also asking for disabled people to be provided with risk-mitigation advice in areas if they live in areas where the virus “is being allowed to run free”.

“Easing travel restrictions to regions with low vaccination rates – whether in NSW or other areas around Australia – represents a huge health risk for people with disability living in those regions,” Samantha Connor, PWDA president, said.

“People with disability are at greater risk of sickness and death if they get infected with COVID, so if we let it rip in places like northern NSW, where vaccination rates are way below even the 70% threshold, many people with disability living in those places will be sitting ducks as the virus starts circulating in those communities.”

Connor said that attention must also be paid to remote First Nations communities, where vaccination rates are low, with many people in Indigenous communities experiencing health issues that put them at greater risk of getting the coronavirus.

She said that the 70% double-vaccinated target for the start to reopening was not good enough and that the risks are still great for those people with disabilities.

“People with disability have already been deprioritised in the COVID response, and now it seems that if you’re a person with disability living in a low-vax region in NSW, you’re going to be left even further behind,” Connor said.

The PWDA wants to see a greater level of support for people with disabilities so they can take steps to protect themselves as much as possible from contracting the virus.

“Things like how to get access to third jabs, negotiating safe in-home support, what our rights are in relation to accessing services and venues, how to access relevant data so we can undertake our own risk assessments, and alternative ways for demonstrating vaccination status for those people who have issues using digital technologies,” Connor said.

“These are all important matters for helping people with disabilities navigate their way in our new world.”


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