The above photo shows Meaghan, a 29 year old wheelchair user due to spinal muscular atrophy, a neuromuscular disease that impacts her skeletal muscle as well as her pulmonary function, making her high risk for potentially fatal effects of the coronavirus.
Maine, amongst several other states, has switched almost overnight to an age-based vaccine rollout schedule. This new system makes no exemptions for the chronically ill or frontline workers and leaves young individuals with high-risk conditions waiting until June or later to receive their COVID-19 vaccine and rejoin the community.
For nearly a year we have been told by every level of government that citizens with preexisting conditions are at the highest risk of severe symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, up to and including fatality. For months we have been promised that the vulnerable would be amongst the first vaccinated. People with chronic illnesses and disabilities have been out of work, have postponed necessary medical procedures, and have been sequestered from their friends, their loved ones, and their communities for the better part of a year. For many who require assistance with daily living, their caregivers and family have been forced to choose between forgoing income or possibly bringing home an illness that has killed over half a million Americans.
The age-based vaccination schedule sends a clear message to the young, high risk population that they are not valued. It has been explained away as the simple solution to a complex problem. In truth it has left hundreds of thousands of chronically ill Americans facing another four or more months of undue financial hardship. I am urging you to please put pressure on our state and federal leaders to revise this schedule to include exemptions for those with preexisting conditions as defined by the initial vaccination schedule.