King's Disability professor urges COVID-19 vaccine for the disabled
February 5, 2021
Dr. Jeff Preston, Associate Professor of Disability Studies, was a guest on the CBC’s “White Coat Black Art with Dr. Brian Goldman” podcast on February 4, 2021 as a disability researcher, teacher and as someone with lived experience. As part of the podcast, Dr. Preston discussed how COVID-19 is affecting people with disabilities. He shared his own concerns about contracting COVID-19 and stressed Canada needs to prioritize people with disabilities when it comes to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Preston and Dr. Goldman talked about how most of the public discourse about distribution of the vaccine has focused on age-based distribution, a philosophy that, Dr. Preston says, may be causing undue risk to another group also vulnerable to the virus: those with disabilities.
“For myself, personally, muscular dystrophy and COVID-19 are a dangerous combination and one that, despite my age, would likely be fatal because of my weakened lungs and immune system. To make things worse, full isolation is not possible for me, as my care staff burst my protective bubble every day as they come for their shift and work in close proximity,” said Dr. Preston.
Dr. Preston explained that, even with the best efforts through Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and limiting exposure outside work, his aides, could still bring the virus to him, whether they are aware they have the virus or not.
“This daily threat makes getting access to the vaccine for people like me that much more important, especially as cases continue to spike. These concerns are amplified by Canada’s longstanding failure to prioritize the urgent needs of disabled Canadians to ensure full inclusion in our society—routinely, government policies leave us at the back of the line or, worse still, not even invited to the party,” says Dr. Preston.
Dr. Preston and Dr. Goldman discussed the world after COVID-19 and how the impact of the virus won’t end with vaccinations for those with disabilities. There will still be hardships after the virus is tamed, leading to a real fear that programs supporting disabled people may bear the brunt of the burden. Dr. Preston fears programs that support our most vulnerable, notably those at the intersections of disability, race, and poverty, may be gutted in an effort to tackle the national debt. This may, in turn, lead to an increased new level precarity for those already living at the margins of society.
To listen to Dr. Preston’s appearance on the podcast, please visit https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-75-white-coat-black-art/clip/15822896-people-disabilities-need-move-front-line
This term, Dr. Preston is teaching the following:
- DS1010: Exploring Disability
- DS2216: Disability in Pop Culture
- DS3312: Diverse DS Perspectives (not teaching it W21 because of an extra 1010 section)
- DS3316: Memes & Dreams