The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022

The longstanding direct support workforce crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to closures of critically needed services and a denial of access to community-based supports.
Access the Report

Tool 1:
Key Messages

Key Messages

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. Here’s what we know about staying healthy and promoting community well-being:

  • Research shows that COVID-19 vaccines are effective. For example, CDC data show that in May 2022, the monthly rate of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations was 3.5 times higher in unvaccinated adults (18 and older) compared to fully vaccinated adults.
  • According to the CDC, the leading federal government source for information about infectious diseases like COVID-19, “Vaccines are highly protective against severe disease, and continuing to expand vaccine coverage and ensuring people are up to date with vaccination is essential to protecting individuals against hospitalizations and deaths.”
  • The FDA approval process and ongoing CDC monitoring ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
  • Many people experience no side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, and the vast majority of people who experience side effects have only mild reactions. The CDC notes that side effects “are normal signs that [your] body is building protection.”
  • To keep ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers and the people we support healthy and safe, we have to balance our personal concerns with protecting the health of others.
  • According to the CDC, people with I/DD, among others with certain medical conditions, are “more likely to get very sick from COVID-19” and if they do, are “more likely to be hospitalized, need intensive care, require a ventilator to help them breathe [and] die.” That means that while it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated, it’s especially important for people who regularly interact with people with I/DD to be vaccinated.
  • It’s not just about the people you support; it’s about YOU. We’re grateful for you and the value, benefits and care you bring to our organization and our community. We want you to stay healthy, too.
  • Getting vaccinated is quick, easy and free.
  • Although some people who are vaccinated become infected with COVID-19—and this is the norm for viruses—evidence proves that it reduces the incidence of severe illness, hospitalization and death.
  • Although many people want to rely on the so-called “natural immunity” that comes from having been infected with COVID-19, the reality is that people can be re-infected with COVID-19.
  • Vaccination against COVID-19 remains important, given the uptick in variant and subvariant infections.
  • Allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare, but vaccination sites ask you to wait 15 minutes (30 minutes if you have previously had a reaction to a vaccine) to watch for a reaction so medical personnel can help you should you experience such reactions. If you had reactions to vaccinations in the past, talk to your doctor.

EXPERT TIP: Reference examples of resources available at your organization or in your community to support people to get vaccinated, such as your company's practices regarding paid time off to get vaccinated, transportation, child care resources and the like.

Resources to Address Misinformation

The resources featured below have been curated to help providers address misinformation. Please consult any of these resources to learn more about how to approach discussions with DSPs about getting vaccinated, including how to frame messages when those discussions reveal that misinformation is contributing to hesitancy.

This project was made possible thanks to funding from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

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