Guidance for Vaccinating Older Adults and People with Disabilities for Vaccination Sites

COVID-19 vaccines are becoming increasingly available. Since many older adults and people with disabilities are, or soon will be, eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination clinics and providers should ensure that they are prepared to accommodate the needs of these populations when they receive vaccination services. Below is some guidance.

Planning Vaccination Outreach

  • Work with partner organizations that serve older adults and people with disabilities, such as state agencies on aging and disabilities, Centers for Independent Living, community-based organizations and advocacy groups, veterans’ groups, faith-based organizations, tribal organizations, and others to identify vaccine needs and accessible locations.
  • Provide information in a variety of accessible formats, such as American Sign Language, braille, and easy-to-read materials with large text and pictures or visual cues.
  • Consider using a range of media channels to communicate about the vaccination clinic, such as newspaper, radio, and TV, in addition to online and social media channels.
  • Enlist trusted messengers that represent the communities where vaccination outreach is being targeted.

Planning for Appointments

  • Name a point of contact within a vaccination clinic to address reasonable accommodation needs for older adults and people with disabilities.
  • Ensure vaccination locations are accessible to people with disabilities consistent with disability rights statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For example, confirm that accessible parking spaces, ramps, and handrails are available at the vaccination clinic. Remind staff that service animals must be allowed in the clinic and remain with their handlers.
  • Plan for accommodations that might be needed for the person receiving vaccination, including:
    • Special hours for people who need extra assistance
    • Wait times and locations that reduce possible exposure to COVID-19
    • Extra time before and after the appointment
    • Ample space for those using assistive devices
  • Ensure that communications meet the necessary requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Plain Language Act, and other applicable disability rights laws for accessibility throughout the vaccination process.

Scheduling an Appointment

  • Provide help with scheduling for those who need it. Consider establishing a call center to help answer questions and assist with scheduling.
  • Provide other scheduling options in addition to web-based forms. Create forms that are easy to navigate and complement those of other vaccination clinics and providers in your area or create a common form where possible.
  • Consider underlying medical conditions that might place people at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. Some states may decide to allow healthcare providers to use clinical judgment to determine an individual patient’s priority for vaccination as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available.
  • In accordance with your state plan, ask if family members or care providers will be accompanying the person being vaccinated and whether they will need to be vaccinated at the same time. Some older adults and people with disabilities have family members or direct service providers who help them with day-to-day activities. It is difficult, if not impossible, for some older adults and people with disabilities to maintain physical distance from care providers.
  • Identify accessible transportation providers in your area; provide information on how people can schedule accessible transportation appointments if needed.

Giving Vaccines

  • Document informed consent/assent in the medical record of those who have a medical proxy.
  • Have accessible materials on site that give more information about the vaccine, any potential side effects, and when the vaccinated person needs to return for a second dose, if needed.
  • Ask the person if he or she has any questions or concerns about the vaccine. Some older adults and people with disabilities may have questions or concerns that are not common among other people.

Planning for After Vaccination

  • Monitor for allergic reactions for 15-30 minutes, per CDC guidance.
  • Provide accessible information about whom to call if the person has questions or concerns after vaccination.
  • Schedule the vaccination appointment for the second dose, if one is needed. Develop a plan to remind people about the second-dose appointment, when needed.
  • Encourage the person who was vaccinated to sign up for v-safe, CDC’s after vaccination health checker.
Page last reviewed: February 17, 2021