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Valley nonprofit offers gym to help provide COVID vaccines to people with disabilities

Posted at 1:54 PM, Apr 03, 2021

“I wish it were done sooner. I mean, I think all of us do,” says Phil Pangrazio, CEO of Ability360.

There was a lot of advocacy around trying to give people with disabilities access to vaccines early on.

Now, months later, they are being heard.

"I think it's fantastic. The more access to the vaccine the better,” says Emily Kingston, Ability360 member.

Several disability organizations have been in contact with the state about the possibility of a pop-up POD site.

Ability360 offered up its gym to hold the two-day vaccination event, a large space to handle things safely.

“If you have a disability, you're a family member of someone with a disability or you're a caregiver - we want you to come in, you're eligible,” says Pangrazio.

The hope is to vaccinate 1,000-2000 people on April 10 and 11. It is something many believe is long overdue.

“Especially in the intellectual disability, developmental disability community - where you had people living in congregate settings, group home settings - where it was a little more difficult to social distance people. Then you also have caregivers coming in to provide those services. I think the feeling was that those people were at much higher risk,” says Pangrazio.

Emily Kingston is part of the disabled community but was able to get vaccinated since she is a healthcare worker. She feels for those waiting for appointments.

“You've got to prioritize somehow, you can't just open it up, you can't open up the floodgates, someone's got to go first. So maybe there was an element of frustration but I don't think I was angry,” says Kingston.

Those working at Ability360 are ready to see their members living life again.

"I've seen what the repercussions are of staying home and being isolated, and not just for their physical health but for their mental health. So now to hear that we are having this vaccination here, I'm super excited to be able to start seeing members,” says Jessica Neff, Ability360.

Second doses will be given in May.

To sign up for the event, click here.