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EPI Workforce Receives COVID-19 Vaccine

posted on Thursday, January 28, 2021

On January 28, Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI) began hosting part one of a two day COVID-19 vaccination clinic. This clinic offered the first dose of the vaccine to all staff indicating they wish to receive one. 

Exceptional Persons, Inc.'s COVID Task Team has worked tirelessly, first to keep staff and persons served healthy and safe and advocating for staff and the vulnerable persons they serve to receive the vaccine, and the work is starting to pay off.

EPI's direct service professionals/healthcare professionals provide services to 400 persons with disabilities in their homes in the Cedar Valley. Often this support is provided to a person 24/7/365 where close contact is inevitable. Due to the nature of their responsibilities and needs of persons served, these critical services cannot be interrupted even when quarantining or self-isolation is recommended through pandemic precautions.

EPI's healthcare professionals work with persons served who have had direct exposures, are symptomatic, and those who have tested positive. Many times these committed professionals voluntarily step forward and offer to quarantine for a stretch of days (ranging from 10-21 days at a time) at the home to ensure the best care for the individual.

COVID task team co-leads, Maghan Bowman and Katie Slade remarked, "We are so proud of our workforce. They have taken each phase of this pandemic seriously. And now, they are taking an important step to provide further protection for the people they serve, their neighbors, their coworkers, their families, and themselves."

Data recently collected from eight states in partnership with ANCOR’s state association members found that people with Intellectual and/or Development Disabilities were twice as likely as members of the general population to die from COVID-19, despite being no more likely to contract the virus.(1) Meanwhile, an analysis of insurance claims data conducted by Fair Health found people with “developmental disorders” were among the likeliest to die from COVID-19, while another study in the UK found people with Down syndrome were 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to members of the general population.

The team is eternally grateful for their partners at UnityPoint Health administering vaccines and the Black Hawk County Public Health for hearing and responding to the advocacy on behalf of their essential workforce. 

"With vaccines becoming more available we can all hope that we are entering the beginning of the end of the pandemic. I am so grateful to our staff, they have shown commitment and heart and consistently stepped up in circumstances where their work became significantly more complicated. Being able to provide them with this protection is one way to say thanks and honor their commitment. And it allows us all to breathe a small sigh of relief. I want to credit the perseverance of our COVID team for their vigilance and their refusal to rest until we had a vaccination plan. Along with much help from our fantastic partners at UnityPoint and advocacy from the Black Hawk County Health Department. ” said Executive Director, Chris Sparks.

Two-hundred of the 300 member workforce voluntarily signed up for the vaccine - and still more have or are planning to receive the vaccine later from their primary healthcare professional.

What about persons served?

The team anticipates setting up similar clinics when given the go ahead and vaccines are available for persons served in Phase 1B.

Supervisory staff have begun reaching out to persons served and their guardians to prepare for the process. If you are the primary guardian to someone we serve we ask for your prompt attention to our communication efforts.

(1) Source: ANCOR Issues Statement on Need to Prioritize People with Intellectual, Developmental Disabilities in Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine | ANCOR