What people with disabilities need to know about mask wearing and vaccinations

What people with disabilities need to know about mask wearing and vaccinations
(Source: Pixabay)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Disability Rights Mississippi updated their COVID-19 guides for people with disabilities.

The two guides help individuals with disabilities understand the medical and logistical side of COVID-19 immunization and mask-wearing.

“We understand that because the vaccine is still so new, there are many questions about the vaccine itself, as well as the immunization process,” said Polly Tribble, Executive Director of DRMS. “As many people with disabilities are now eligible for the vaccine in Mississippi; we want to ensure that those individuals seeking information have access to it.”

If there are any concerns, please contact your doctor to ask questions. Each vaccine is tested by scientists and approved to be safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there may be side effects to taking the vaccine, but it does not give you COVID-19.

Due to Gov. Tate Reeves lifting mask mandates, DRMS also seeks to clarify current restrictions and ensure people with disabilities know of possible exemptions and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Various physical and/or behavioral conditions may limit an individual from wearing a mask, such as PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, or limit dexterity or create sensory sensitivities.

State businesses provided exemptions for some individuals, including people with disabilities, in the governor’s previous executive orders on mask mandates. DRMS aims to help businesses continue to understand how they can reasonably accommodate those with disabilities with the governor’s order no longer in effect.

Disability Rights Mississippi says businesses cannot prohibit a person with a disability from entering without a mask and should consider “reasonable modification,” based on disability-based discrimination laws.

However, the Department of Justice states “the ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.” If no modification can be made and a person poses a direct threat, a business can deny entry for others’ health and safety.

“We believe that safety and accessibility can continue to coexist in this pandemic,” said Tribble. “As rules and restrictions continue to evolve—and potentially become more subjective—we want to assist people with disabilities in understanding where we are and what their rights are.”

For more information or assistance, please contact Disability Rights Mississippi at 601-968-0600 or visit drms.ms/covid.

Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.