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.
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Tool 5:
Conversation Tips & FAQs

Conversation DOs & DON'Ts
  • DO listen closely as the DSPs with whom you speak express their concerns about getting vaccinated. DO NOT assume that you know why they may be hesitant.
  • DO understand that people’s perspectives about getting vaccinated are informed by a variety of influences, including discussion with friends and family, political beliefs, discourse in traditional and social media and more. DO NOT assume that a person will or will not get vaccinated based on what you think you know about these dimensions.
  • DO be firm in stating facts and expressing what’s at stake for the people you support if DSPs choose not to get vaccinated. DO NOT be aggressive or try to refute the person’s perspective without fully hearing it first.
  • DO acknowledge that people may be hesitant to get a vaccine or that they have concerns about vaccination. DO NOT use labels on related topics, such as “anti-vaxxer,” to define people.
  • DO point out when people’s understanding of the facts is incorrect or inaccurate by replacing false information with true information. DO NOT insist people are wrong without offering more accurate information that can deepen their understanding. Provide trusted sources of information included in this Toolkit.
  • DO share your own reasons for having gotten vaccinated, and your reasons for having previously been hesitant, if applicable. DO NOT assume that others’ reasons are parallel to your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m young and healthy. Do I really need to get a vaccine?

As Johns Hopkins University notes, “Not getting vaccinated puts you at much higher risk of severe COVID-19, which can make you seriously sick for a long period of time and possibly cause lasting damage—even if you’re young and healthy. We still don’t know why COVID causes such severe disease in some people, so it’s impossible to predict whether you’ll have a mild or serious case if you are exposed.”

If the vaccines are so effective, then why do so many vaccinated people contract COVID-19?

According to the American Medical Association, COVID-19 breakthrough infections are to be expected. “Nevertheless, the fact remains that getting vaccinated is effective in preventing people from getting severely ill or dying from the disease. Even as new COVID-19 variants appear, vaccines continue to hold their ground. But since no vaccine is perfect, it is expected that we will see COVID-19 breakthrough infections,” though “people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick.”

Do we know what’s in the vaccine?

According to the CDC, “Vaccine ingredients vary by manufacturer. None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals, such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium and rare earth alloys. They are also free from manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes and nanowire semiconductors. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved in the United States contain any live virus.”

To learn more about the ingredients in authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines, see:

I already had COVID-19. Doesn’t that mean I already have natural immunity?

Johns Hopkins University reports that “COVID-19 vaccines are recommended, even if you had COVID-19. At present, evidence from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports getting a COVID-19 vaccine as the best protection against getting COVID-19, whether you have already had the virus or not.”

I have heard that the vaccines can make you unable to conceive a child, and I may want to have kids one day. Is the vaccine safe for me?

Per the CDC, “Yes, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant now, as well as people who might become pregnant in the future. People with COVID-19 during pregnancy are more likely to deliver a preterm (earlier than 37 weeks) or stillborn infant and may also be more likely to have other pregnancy complications.”

How do you know the vaccine is safe when it was on the market so quickly?

The CDC explains that “More than 591 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through June 13, 2022 [and] COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).” The CDC further explains that “the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in US history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.”

I’m fully vaccinated and now you want me to get a booster?

The CDC advises that “COVID-19 vaccine boosters can further enhance or restore protection that might have decreased over time after your primary series vaccination. People are protected best from severe COVID-19 illness when they stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting all recommended boosters when eligible.”

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

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