Disabled community relieved over Gov. Cox’s decision to allow vaccination

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SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4 News) – A sigh of relief and a sign of new hope for young members of the disabled community and their loved ones.

It’s after Governor Spencer Cox announced on Thursday that Utahns 16 and older with certain comorbidities are now allowed to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Effective immediately, Utahns, pay special attention to this, who are ages 16 and up with certain comorbidities are eligible to be vaccinated,” Cox said during his COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.

“It’s been such an amazing gift that I’m not sure he understands how many families with children that are quarantined that are 16 and 17 that for a brief moment thought that this wouldn’t end for quite sometime,” says Danielle Barrani.

Barrani’s 17-year-old daughter Mia has down syndrome.

Her family’s been quarantined since March 4th of last year. During that time, Barrani has fought to find answers as to when Mia and others in the disabled community would be vaccinated.

Her efforts often turned out with no answers. “There was no reason to leave them out,” she says. “I’ve always said they were willfully and purposefully leaving them behind.”

In the wake of the Governor’s announcement, Barrani says “I’m grateful that they turned the corner and gave us all hope. I thank Angela Dunn and Jenny Wilson. I know they had a big voice in that, and so many people that allowed the governor to course correct that now.”

Mia is scheduled to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 2. Her mother anticipates she’ll be fully vaccinated by the end of April. The family is looking forward to spending Easter with loved ones. Barrani is also hopeful Mia will be allowed to attend summer school since she’s been out of school an entire calendar year due to the coronavirus.

In a statement, the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City tells ABC4: “The Disability Law Center appreciates the State’s efforts to safeguard individuals with disabilities with high-risk conditions by prioritizing them for COVID-19 vaccination. As we noted in our letter to state leaders, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have much higher mortality rates, so we believe this step is necessary to ensure the health and safety of those individuals in Utah. As the rollout continues, we will work to ensure all individuals with disabilities who are eligible have access to the vaccine.”

Per guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those that are 16 and 17 are only approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

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