FAQs on COVID-19 Vaccinations for Brokerage Customers


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People with Developmental Disabilities and their Families and Support Workers (PSWs and DSPs) can get the COVID-19 Vaccine now

COVID vaccines have been tested and proven effective and are arriving now in Oregon. We all have questions about how vaccines will get to all the people who need them. We gathered some information to share about the unfolding COVID-19 Vaccination Process. Our goal is to provide people with the most accurate information so that they can be healthy, safe and informed about the process.

The COVID-19 Vaccines are here and Oregon gets more doses each day. Oregon has a plan that says who can get the COVID-19 Vaccine. The plan puts people first who are at greatest risk of:

  • Getting COVID-19, or
  • Getting really sick with COVID-19.

There are 3 Phases to the roll-out plan and different groups within each Phase.

Adults and youth (age 16+) with developmental disabilities, their families and support workers are in Phase 1a.

Oregon is currently giving vaccines to all people who are in Phase 1a.

Brokerage customers, people who provide unpaid support in direct contact with them, and paid providers should be able to get the vaccine as part of Phase 1a-Group 3. Initially, these groups were going to be offered the vaccine in chronological group order. In an effort to get people protected by the vaccine as quickly as possible, the Governor and the Oregon Health Authority have opened the vaccine eligibility to all groups within Phase 1a at the same time.

Why would I want to get a COVID vaccine?

A vaccine is important to help stop the spread of COVID-19: Vaccines help your body grow its ability to fight off a specific disease, which keeps you healthy, protects our hospitals from overcrowding, and stops COVID spreading through the community.

1. It is a safe way to protect yourself from getting COVID-19: The vaccine development process is rigorous, with many trials, tests, and benchmarks that must be met. The vaccine has been tested on many thousands of volunteers from diverse backgrounds. Vaccines have a proven track record of fighting and even getting rid of disease.

2. It will protect others around you: As fewer people contract the disease, it gets harder for the disease to spread within a community. As a society, we need people to be vaccinated in order to get rid of COVID.

3. The vaccine will help us get back to “normal” faster: There is no cure for COVID for people who catch the disease. Vaccination is our best chance of reducing COVID infections to the point that the danger is low enough for people to return to normal life routines and activities.


Where and when can I get the vaccine?

Information on vaccine availability will be released by Local Public Health Authorities. This means that vaccine locations and procedures may vary somewhat from place to place across the state. As the vaccine is distributed and made available in your area, information will likely be shared on local media. Specific information will also come to you through contact from your Personal Agent. We do not yet know what the processes will be, but you may be asked to make an appointment, or there may be more public vaccination events in your community. When we know where you can receive a vaccine, we will call and tell you!

Who is eligible to get a vaccine now?

Phase 1a-Group 3 includes most people who use and interact with the DD service system. All people with an intellectual or developmental disability are now able to get the vaccine. The following people are eligible to get a vaccine now under Phase 1a-Group 3:

  • People enrolled in a Brokerage, Group Homes, Foster Care, or other service
  • People who have IDD but do not receive services
  • People who live with and/or provide care in close contact to a person who has an intellectual or developmental disability
  • PSWs and DSPs

How much vaccine is available right now?

Oregon does have a limited supply at the time of the drafting of this document, early in January 2021. This is why Oregon has created a roll-out plan. More vaccine doses are arriving regularly.

Do I have a choice about getting the vaccine?

Yes, most people will be able to choose whether or not they get the vaccine. Not everyone will choose to be vaccinated. Doctors may advise a very small number of people not to get the vaccine during the initial roll-out.

Note that it is legal for employers to require that their employees have this vaccination, and they can ask for proof of vaccination. Proof of vaccination may also be a requirement to travel to certain countries.

How do I know if the vaccine is right for me?

Your best source of personalized medical advice is your doctor. The vaccine is generally recommended as our best opportunity to avoid COVID-19 infection.

Though the vaccine development process included a wide variety of individuals and populations, there are a few small subsets of people who were not included as part of vaccine trials. Because there is not yet testing data to support vaccination for those specific sub-groups, they may not be encouraged to be vaccinated initially. If you have concerns, your doctor will be able to help you decide what is best for you.

For more general information, Oregon has provided many resources to assist you in your research, including:

COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon
COVID-19 Updates
Office of Developmental Disabilities Services

How do I get the vaccine?

Information is coming out continuously about vaccine distribution. As of this publication, we know that local public health entities will determine how the vaccine is administered in each community around Oregon. This means that the answer to this question in Clackamas County may be different than it is in Coos County.

To find more information about your Local Public Health contact, you can go to Oregon Health Authority : Local Public Health Authority Directory : Technical Assistance for Local Public Health Authorities.

Please do pay attention to local media announcements and local information campaigns that share news about vaccine clinics and other ways to get the vaccine. Know that you are eligible now, and that means that any clinic or other avenue for getting the vaccine should be open to you.

What if I need help to get vaccinated?

Your Brokerage Personal Agent is here to help you navigate this process. We will contact you as information becomes available about where and when vaccines are available.

Your Personal Agent is not able to administer the vaccine, nor do
Brokerages have medically-trained personnel on staff. If you need support to get to a vaccination site, we will help as needed, which may look like: helping to schedule an appointment with you, helping to coordinate provider support, arranging transportation, etc. We cannot give you the shot, but we can help you get to someone who can.

What proof will I need to provide that I am part of Phase 1a-Group 3?

Based on most recent communication, you (or a supporter) will need to be able to state that you are in “Phase 1a-Group 3” and what category you fall into:

  • Person with an IDD diagnosis
  • Person providing support to an individual with an IDD diagnosis
  • Parent helping care for a child with an IDD diagnosis

 What if OHA moves on to the next phase and I miss my group?

People eligible during 1a can request a vaccine at any point in the process. You will not lose your spot in line. As OHA moves down the vaccine priority list, they open the opportunity up to more people without closing it to others.

What do I need to bring to my vaccine appointment?

You should be given specific information about this when you make your vaccine appointment. You will most likely need to be prepared to talk with your vaccination provider about:

  • What makes you eligible for vaccination (diagnosis of developmental disability, status as a person providing support,etc.)
  • Your medical conditions
  • All known allergies
  • Any previous experience with vaccine side effects
  • Your address/where you live

 What should I expect after I get the vaccine?

As is common with most vaccines, you may experience pain or discomfort after the shot as part of your body’s immune response. Side effects that have been reported with the COVID-19 vaccines include injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, feeling unwell, and swollen lymph nodes.

The purpose of any vaccine is to stimulate an immune response from your body so that it can fight off infection threats as they occur. This immune response may cause some aches and pains, but it is all in the service of making sure that you are protected from the worst effects of COVID-19.

The vaccination process should include an observation period of around 15-20 minutes after administration to ensure there are no actual side effects, such as an allergic reaction. Such reactions are rare, but have occurred in a small handful of instances. If you know of any allergies that you have (or allergies that a family member getting the vaccine has), please make sure that you discuss those with your provider.

This vaccine requires 2 doses, about 3 weeks apart. You should be prepared to schedule a return visit. Please note that, while honoring this vaccination schedule gives you the best chance to develop the immunity you need, it is possible to get your second “booster” shot later than indicated and still experience the benefit.

Make a plan to get your second shot as prescribed, but do not give it up entirely if something gets in the way of that plan.

Will the vaccine give me COVID?

No, neither COVID vaccine will infect you with COVID. The two COVID vaccines approved to date work by directing your body to create a protein that looks enough like the COVID virus that your body is tricked, and develops antibodies to fight it. That builds your body’s ability to fight off the true COVID virus when you later encounter it, keeping you from developing an infection and getting sick.

How can I continue to keep myself and others safe after I get the vaccine?

We will all be asked to continue to take safety precautions after vaccination. Keep in mind that it will take a little while after you receive the shot for your body to grow its ability to fight off the COVID virus. The real measure of whether or not the vaccine is working is whether the disease is still moving from person to person in our communities.

Until the COVID infections rates, hospital capacity, and other indicators of community transmission go down, we will need to keep our masks on, keep our distance, and avoid indoor gatherings.

Personal Protective Equipment for Personal Support Workers

As of April 27th, 2020, the Oregon Department of Human Services announced access to additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Personal Support Workers. Here is the new process for PSWs to obtain gloves and masks:

Personal Support Workers should submit a request to the Oregon Home Care Commission by completing an electronic form via SEIU’s website https://seiu503.tfaforms.net/622 or by emailing OHCC.CustomerRelations@dhsoha.state.or.us.

If you are sending an email request, you must include all of the following:

  • First and Last Name
  • Provider Number
  • Provider Type (Personal Support Worker)
  • Name of Case Management Entity (Independence Northwest Brokerage)
  • Number of customers you support in a week
  • Number of hours worked per pay period per customer (this is what they will use to determine how many gloves or masks they will provide you)
  • Type of PPE requested (masks or gloves)
  • Whether you would prefer to have the PPE mailed or if you would like to pick it up

Once you complete the process, the OHCC will notify you of available pick up times and locations or how the materials will be sent.

Read the full transmittal by clicking here.

From all of us at Independence Northwest, we’d like to thank you for the essential services you are providing our community at this time.

If you have any questions, please contact the Personal Agent(s) you work with at INW by calling 503-546-2950.

If You Get Sick, What Do Nurses and Doctors Need to Know to Communicate Best With You?

By Larry Deal, Executive Director

A little over a week ago, my father was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, medics were unable to honor his choice of hospitals in South Florida and for ten days no outside visitors have been allowed into the hospital to see him.

My family’s story is just one of many playing out across the world as more and more people are hospitalized due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In many areas, hospitals aren’t allowing visitors to stay with adults who are admitted, due to an abundance of caution over the spread of virus. The decision makes good sense from a public health perspective – we all must understand the essential role we play in limiting potential spread – but it’s a pretty difficult experience when a loved one is ill and needs care. While my father’s health situation isn’t related to the virus, his care is being affected significantly by the pandemic.

Nothing is more essential than being able to communicate your needs in the midst of a crisis. If you or someone you care for were to need to communicate wants and needs without familiar supports in place, now is the time to create a backup communication plan. My sisters and I completed a Health Passport to have at our father’s side in this moment  and we encourage you to do consider doing the same. These documents have the power to humanize and illuminate those we care about and to express personal preferences in moments when those things can make all the difference.

As you continue to refine your safety plans during this heightened period, please consider including a communication document of some sort. Fill one out, keep it somewhere safe, and if you must seek medical attention, make sure it’s updated and at your side in case your usual supports aren’t. Oregon hospitals are doing what they can to honor choices in support and we recommend checking in with local hospitals to determine policies in your area.  Check out the communication resources we have pulled together in partnership with speech pathologist and INW board member, Corinne Thomas-Kersting. Huge thanks to her for this support.

If you have additional resources you’d like shared with INW’s customers, families, and networks, please send me a note at larry@independencenw.org. Thanks so much. I hope that you and your families are safe and well. If there’s anything at all we can do to support you, please reach out. We’re here.

Please visit www.independencenw.org/communication to find a healthcare passport for you or your family.

Essential Resources:

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March 17, 2020: Important Coronavirus Notice from Oregon DHS for Customers and Families

March 17, 2020
From: Oregon Department of Human Services
To: People living in their own homes or family homes, Children in foster care homes, and Family members of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in these settings; and Child Foster Home providers serving children with I/DD

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is a virus that makes people feel unwell. People with other health issues are most at-risk if they get this virus. COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through droplets in the air and on surfaces that people touch. To protect the health and safety of people and their families, the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) is providing the following guidance.

Help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How to protect yourself and others.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after
    you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%
    alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the
    inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately follow the “practice good hygiene” steps above.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables,
    doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Clean dirty surfaces: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Wash items including washable plush toys as appropriate. If possible, wash items
    using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  •  Put at least 6 feet of space between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is
    spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at
    higher risk.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members
    from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use,
    if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
  • Avoid gatherings and activities in the community when possible.

Take precautions for visitors

  • Prior to accepting a visitor into the home, screen the visitor for signs and
    symptoms of COVID-19 by asking the visitor the following questions:

    • Have you had signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever,
      cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    • Have you had contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed
      diagnosis of COVID-19, or under investigation for COVID-19?
    • Have you traveled internationally within the last 14 days?
  • • If you have concerns about a visitor being ill, you can decide to restrict the visitor
    from entering the home. Consider alternative methods to visit, such as phone or
    video chat.
    • If you choose to allow visitors, provide guidance on protecting themselves and
    others by practicing proper hand washing, limiting surfaces touched, and
    maintaining a safe distance from other household members.

Working with your staff (i.e., Personal Support Worker, Direct Support Professional, or
alternate caregivers)

  • Discuss together how staff can support the you in implementing the steps listed
    above to remain healthy and safe.
  •  Individuals, families, and child foster home providers should expect staff to follow
    good hygiene guidelines and preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness

Back-up Planning & Working with the Case Manager

COVID-19 Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance
ODDS COVID-19 Information
ODDS COVID-19 YouTube Video