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Disability Rights Connecticut claims Connecticut’s age-based rollout is discriminatory, files civil rights complaint
Hartford Courant - 2/25/2021
The nonprofit organization Disability Rights Connecticut has filed a civil rights complaint against the state of Connecticut, claiming that Gov. Ned Lamont’s new age-based COVID-19 vaccine rollout discriminates against people with underlying conditions, including some people with disabilities.
Lamont on Monday pivoted from his previous rollout plan, which would prioritized residents based on a combination of age and other risk factors. In a surprise move, he instead adopted a plan that is based solely on age, with a carve-out for only one group: educators.
Connecticut’s new plan is a rejection of the guidance handed down by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lamont and his top aides have said the CDC guidance was too complex and have emphasized the simplicity of their plan, which could make the rollout move more quickly than it would have under the previous plan.
But DRCT claims that age-based prioritization is discriminatory against people with disabilities, both because it does not address the increased risk that COVID-19 poses for people with underlying conditions and because it does not include a process by which people with disabilities can request an exception.
DRCT Executive Director Deborah Dorfman said in a release that the new rollout plan is “the latest disturbing example” of discrimination against people with disabilities.
“Connecticut’s new policy has apparently been developed in the belief that it would be easier to administer. But merely because it may be easier does not make it right,” Dorfman said. “And this policy is not only an outlier nationally, it blatantly disregards CDC policy guidelines, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the rights of individuals with disabilities.”
In the release, DRCT focused particularly on younger people with underlying conditions. Those people were next in line for vaccinations under the old plan, but will now have to wait until at least May under the new plan.
“The state has now put more than 1 million people ahead of individuals in their 20\u2032s or early 30\u2032s, for example, who have a disability that would have made them eligible to receive a vaccination just days from now,” Dorfman said in the release. “These are individuals who were previously told they would be eligible to receive a vaccine as soon as next week. Now it will be May at the earliest, and quite possibly considerably longer.”
DRCT, which was created by former Gov. Dannel Malloy, filed the complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A spokesperson for Lamont’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Emily Brindley can be reached at email@example.com.
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