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Watch the new “DON’T HESITATE. VACCINATE!” video campaign!
August 23, 2021

Watch the new “DON’T HESITATE. VACCINATE!” video campaign!

Using a $20,000 grant from the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), NYSID has launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities—along with the workers and caregivers who support them—to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The video and forthcoming 30-second public service announcements feature persons with developmental disabilities, family members, caregivers, providers, and others who are deeply involved in supporting the community. It also includes Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman and Special Olympics New York athlete and employee Jude Killar.

Stanfort Perry, Executive Director of AHRC Nassau and Chairman of the Board of NYSID, said: “People with developmental disabilities were hit harder by COVID than the general population. They suffered from isolation, an inability to receive supportive services, and denial of the kind of specialized interactions they need to get through the day. They were nearly three times as likely to die of COVID as the general population. The more folks are vaccinated, the quicker we can return to a semblance of normal life.”

NYSID President and CEO Maureen O’Brien said: “We’re grateful to OPWDD for this grant and the support they gave us in creating this campaign. They are tremendous partners in the work that began nearly five decades ago with the closure of Willowbrook. We hope that together we can bring vaccination rates up and help everyone be safe.”

OPWDD Commissioner Theodore M. Kastner, MD, MS, said: “Vaccine hesitancy among staff who support people with developmental disabilities is a serious issue that OPWDD and our voluntary providers are struggling to overcome. Direct support staff are at increased risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 due to work-related duties which must be performed on site and in homes in close contact with people with developmental disabilities and their coworkers. The `Don’t Hesitate. Vaccinate!’ video created in partnership with NYSID will help educate staff about the importance of getting the vaccine. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine provides an added layer of protection against the virus and ensures the continued safety of the people we support.”

NYSID created the video with the involvement of several critical partners, including Special Olympics New York, Center for Disability Services and Albany Medical Center. The campaign is an extension of their common efforts during the pandemic, which have included specialized vaccination clinics for people with developmental disabilities as well as collaboration on specialized vaccination opportunities.