People with disabilities are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19, new research suggests, but it’s not because they are reluctant to do so.

In fact, access seems to be the problem.

In a study published this month in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers with the federal agency found that people with disabilities are almost twice as likely as others to indicate that they would definitely get the shots. Yet, those with disabilities were less likely to be vaccinated.

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The findings are based on a telephone survey of nearly 57,000 noninstitutionalized adults between May 30 and June 26. About 1 in 10 respondents indicated that they had a disability, which was defined as having serious difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, remembering, making decisions or communicating.

Individuals with disabilities were more likely to report that it would be difficult to get vaccinated, with unvaccinated adults in this group citing trouble getting an appointment online, not knowing where to go or having issues getting to a vaccination site and indicating that sites are not open at convenient times.

“Unvaccinated adults with disabilities were more likely than were those without a disability to report thinking that the vaccine is important protection, indicating that there might be potential for increasing vaccination coverage in this group,” the study authors concluded. “However, adults with a disability anticipated or experienced more difficulty obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination than did those without a disability.”

The study authors said that more should be done to make vaccine registration websites accessible and indicated that a recently established national call line known as the Disability Information and Access Line, or DIAL, offers help to people with disabilities with appointment scheduling and logistics.

In addition, the researchers noted that accommodations at vaccine sites vary since regulations do not require sign-language interpreters or providers trained to work with people who have developmental disabilities, for example. However, recent federal grants to aging and disability networks across the country to improve vaccine access could help, they said.

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