‘I don’t feel like a prisoner anymore’: Roanoke COVID vaccine clinic held for people with disabilities

Nearly 100 people were vaccinated

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic specifically for people with disabilities Wednesday.

The once-coveted COVID-19 vaccine is now available to just about anyone who wants one but for many, available does not mean accessible.

“Afraid to go out, afraid to catch it because if I catch it, with my lungs, I’m a goner,” said Shelia Addair, who got her vaccine Wednesday. “People with disabilities like me can’t walk very far, we can’t get very far, we can’t stand, we can’t sit.”

That kept Addair from other clinics, until now. She was one of nearly 100 people who finally got their shot thanks to a clinic, specifically for people with disabilities.

“I’ve been basically holed up for over a year now and to be able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and enjoy people and enjoy walking, what little bit I can do, is great,” Addair said.

The setting was a lot different from the mass clinics that have been held. Even just handicap parking available right outside and doors that open automatically made it much more accessible for people with disabilities.

“Some people with disabilities do have other health conditions that make them very vulnerable and so going to a large clinic where there may be thousands of people really increases their chance of getting COVID,” said Karen Karney, executive director of Blue Ridge Independent Living Center.

Blue Ridge Independent Living Center teamed up with the health department for the clinic, offering sign language interpreters, readers, scribes and transportation assistance to accommodate different needs.

“We’re here to assist people with disabilities to be independent in the community. In the community means the community, not just their home,” Karney said.

Giving more people a shot at normalcy, regardless of ability.

“I don’t feel like a prisoner anymore,” Addair said.

There aren’t any more clinics planned for people with disabilities, but Blue Ridge Independent Living Center will help anyone who needs accommodations to get a vaccine.

About the Author:

Jessica anchors 10 News on Saturdays and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m. You can also catch her reporting during the week.