Jefferson Health holds vaccine clinic for patients with intellectual disabilities

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A vaccine clinic at Jefferson's Health Navy Yard hospital aimed to vaccinate those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"This one is quieter. All of our vaccinators are familiar with this population. We provide accommodations for those who need it," said Dr. Wendy Ross, who is the director of Jefferson Health Center for Autism and Neurodiversity.

The waiting room had only two chairs, and staff had fidget spinners, headphones, and sunglasses on hand.

The clinic gave about 50 Johnson & Johnson vaccinations in over six hours.

The providers in charge of it say this slowed-down pace is what their IDD patients, those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, need.

"Not everybody tolerates large crowds and lines, and I think the population we serve in particular is really at high risk for getting and dying from COVID," said Ross.

Ross and her team did a study of more than 64 million COVID-19 cases and found IDD patients were nearly six times more likely to die from the virus, the second-highest risk factor next to age.

"A lot of people we know who are in this category don't really know how to protect themselves, or they can't really tolerate this. I don't like tolerating this," said Stanley Jaskiewicz, who brought his son to the clinic. "He didn't fit in any of the categories. We didn't know when or where."

Batisha Andrews is a Jefferson patient, and so is her brother Shawn.

They both say they're thankful for this clinic and that it's only one shot.

"I feel great that I was finally able to get the vaccination," she said.

After Jefferson's study, 11 states, including Pennsylvania, changed their vaccine rollout to include IDD patients.
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