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'It's really heartbreaking:' Those with disabilities moved down on NC's vaccination priority list

Posted January 18, 2021 10:31 p.m. EST
Updated January 19, 2021 4:23 a.m. EST

A North Carolina woman said she's heartbroken after her daughter with disabilities was moved down the vaccination priority list.

Many of those with disabilities are cared for in the comfort of their own home.

Sharon DiSandro said it's been a challenge finding outlets for her loved one during this time, and now that they've been moved down the list, it's made things much harder.

"It's a hard pill to swallow. It's really heartbreaking," described DiSandro.

She said it was a heartbreaking reality when she found out her 28-year-old daughter Rebecca was bumped down the vaccination list to Phase 4, which is when adults at high-risk of exposure and increased risk of severe illness can receive the vaccine.

"She has something called Freeman Sheldon Syndrome, it's very, very rare," said DiSandro. "There's a lot of unknowns with it. It affects her muscles, her joints, her gastrointestinal system and her respiratory system, so it's very concerning for us."

As of Dec. 30, North Carolina's Phase 2 of COVID vaccinations included anyone 16-64 with a medical condition putting them at high-risk. Then last week, that group was moved into Phase 4.

"We do realize that the vaccine is limited, so it has to go out in phase, but we're just disappointed that NC was following CDC recommendations and had high-risk individuals in Phase 2 and then last week, they changed it to Phase 4 and it's almost at the bottom of the chart now," said DiSandro.

According to the CDC, some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of their underlying medical conditions.

It's a concern for parents like DiSandro, and many others.

"It's not just people with disabilities. There are people with cancer, diabetes," said DiSandro. "There is a whole list of risk factors that are involved that could potentially have a fatal outcome for these individuals. I just don't understand how we went from Phase 2 to Phase 4. It doesn't make sense to me.

While the CDC makes recommendations on who should get the vaccine first, it’s ultimately up to each state to make that call.

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