Policy of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) on the
Right of All Americans to Potential Life Saving Vaccinations and Care
In the current COVID-19 era, AASWSW has become very concerned with reports emanating from other national organizations about earlier federal discussions on withholding of potential life-saving vaccinations and care. The conclusions from these discussions follow:
- A determination that an individual not receive a vaccine because the vaccine would not be effective given his or her health situation would be unlikely to raise Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerns, because it would be based on a medical determination of treatment.
- To the extent that … decisions are based on an individual medical treatment decision, e.g., in which the individual is allergic to the scarce medication or would not mount an immune response to the vaccine, case law under the ADA and Section 504 would indicate that a violation of these statutes would be unlikely (See Note 1).
Potential shortages are likely for vaccinations, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, and ventilators for our national COVID-19 response. This has raised grave concerns that such logic will result in people with disabilities and others who might be subjected to discriminatory and exclusionary practices being passed over for essential care in favor of others.
Yet, the US Declaration of Independence specifies the right to life is inalienable. And legal precedents since passage of the ADA support equal access to life-saving health care services (See Note 2).
Therefore, AASWSW strongly advocates a national policy of equal access to COVID-19 vaccinations and care for all Americans, irrespective of disability status, sexual orientation, or demographic or economic characteristics.
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