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Path to normalcy begins with the vaccine for individuals with disabilities and their caretakers

Another group of 500 people will get their first shots on April 16
Those waiting for their first -round of COVID vaccinations line up outside of the Boulder County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall Friday morning. Boulder County Public Health partnered with Imagine! and Association of Community Living for the vaccine event

Paul Thompson hates getting shots but he voluntarily lined up for one Friday morning with his dad at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. The Thompsons shared a long line with other people with disabilities who waited patiently for their first round of the COVID-19 vaccination.

“I don’t mind shots, I just don’t like them,” said the 58-year-old Paul Thompson. “I just look away while they are doing it. It doesn’t hurt so bad then.”

Thompson’s father — 83-year-old, Bruce — was just grateful his son was getting a chance to beat the virus. “I am absolutely thrilled he gets his vaccine,” said Bruce, Paul’s caregiver. “This has been a tough, long haul for everybody and for my son. But this is a chance at a little normalcy.”

“I am so grateful for this,” the elder Thompson said. 

As many as 500 people — along with their caregivers — were expected at Friday’s vaccination clinic, hosted by Boulder County Public Health, Imagine!, and Association for Community Living. 

The event was aimed at getting the COVID vaccine to a community of people often overlooked and even more isolated because of the virus, said Rebecca Novinger, executive director for Lafayette-based Imagine!

“Many don’t have high-speed internet if they have the internet at all,” Novinger said. “They don’t have access to a lot of the things we take for granted. And the pandemic can be especially frightening and confusing.”

“This clinic,” Novinger said, “was set up to make it as easy as possible for them to get a vaccine, to make them comfortable.”

Imagine! provides services designed to help people with developmental, cognitive and physical challenges incorporate into their community, according to the Imagine! website. Imagine! provides educational and therapeutic services, job training and placement, recreation and leisure activities and support for their families.

The Association for Community Living provides independent advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in Boulder and Broomfield counties. 

Friday’s clinic participants made reservations for their shots through Imagine!, which compiled a database of eligible people, Novinger said. Their caregivers drove them to the fairgrounds parking lot Friday morning where they were greeted by volunteers who escorted them into a waiting line that stretched into the exhibit hall.

Once inside, temperatures were taken and shots quickly administered. Participants were automatically scheduled for their second vaccination in a month, Novinger said.

Another group of 500 people will get their first shots on April 16, she said.

“This whole effort is to help people who were hit especially hard by the pandemic,” Novinger said. “Thanks to our partners, I think we are making everything a little bit easier for them.”