'Unconscionable' to lift lockdowns before all Australians with disability can be vaccinated, inquiry says

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Scathing report finds federal health department 'seriously deficient' in rolling out vaccine to people with disability
The disability royal commission says governments should not lift lockdowns until all people with disability have had the "opportunity to be fully vaccinated" – even if states and territories hit the 70% fully vaccinated threshold.

In a scathing draft report handed down on Monday morning, the royal commission found the federal department of health's approach to vaccinating people with disabilities had been "seriously deficient".

People with disability living in shared accommodation, or "group homes", were included in phase 1a of the vaccine rollout but then quietly "deprioritised" in favour of aged care residents.

The commission is now concerned people with disabilities will remain unprotected as states such as New South Wales and Victoria look to ease restrictions when 70% of the adult population is fully vaccinated next month.

"In our view, it would be grossly unfair, indeed unconscionable, if any people with disability who have not been given the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by the time the 70% threshold is reached are denied the freedoms available to people who have been fully vaccinated," the report said.

"The unfairness is magnified once it is accepted – as it must be – that increased freedoms for the fully vaccinated increase the risk of contracting Covid-19 for people who are not fully vaccinated.

"It is one thing for people who choose not to be vaccinated to be denied these freedoms; it is quite another for people who have been denied the opportunity to be fully vaccinated also to be denied those freedoms."

The report said the federal government should "use its best endeavours" to ensure no state or territory "significantly eases restrictions" when the 70% threshold is met unless all people with disability "have and appreciate that they have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated".

The commission singled out national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) participants, people living in residential disability accommodation and people with…
Luke Henriques-Gomes
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