I am beautiful.
I am successful.
I am a student.
I am a wife.
I am a daughter.
I am an aunt.
I am a friend.
I am disabled.
And I am at a high risk of dying from COVID-19.
I should not need to be any of these things for my life to have value. That I am alive should be enough. But right now, I am being told — along with hundreds of thousands just like me — by the state of California that we are not worth protecting from this virus.
In December, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that people with high-risk medical conditions be given the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as non-front-line health care workers. But in late January, you completely scrapped that plan. Instead, you are recommending a basic age-based grouping in prioritizing vaccine distribution. By doing so, you are neglecting the health and safety of all Californians living with disabilities.
We disabled people often need help with the basic activities of daily life: getting in and out of bed; eating; bathing. Not everybody with disabilities lives in long-term care facilities that have been devastated by COVID-19, and not everybody with a disability is elderly; yet we are susceptible to the same dangers. We rely on kind, loving people who come into our homes to do essential work for us every day. Sometimes our caregivers work even when they are sick because there is no other option for us.
We need the compassionate care of our government. We are at a much higher risk of getting and dying from COVID-19, and we are helpless to stop this on our own. It is not our fault that we need the help of multiple people every day, or that our lungs don't work at full capacity, or that our immune systems are compromised.
Your citizens are begging for help. No, we are dying for help.
Do not leave us to flounder in the ocean without a lifeboat. We will not survive. Gov. Newsom, you must expand access to the vaccines to those of us whose lives depend on it.
I am a woman.
I am creative.
I am an athlete.
I am a granddaughter.
I am a sister.
I am a colleague.
I am disabled.
I have a voice.
And I will use it.
Jennifer Panighetti lives in Mountain View.
This story contains 404 words.
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