HHS Launches Hotline to Improve Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Disabilities

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind national hotline to connect people with disabilities to information and services to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) connects callers to information about how to access the COVID-19 vaccine and related supports for people with disabilities. DIAL connects callers to vaccine sites and provides information related to barriers to vaccination by referring callers to local and national disability resources.

DIAL is now available to help people with disabilities find vaccination locations in their communities, assist callers with making vaccination appointments, and connect callers to local services – such as accessible transportation – to overcome barriers to vaccination. The hotline also can provide information and resources to answer questions and address concerns about the vaccines and can connect callers to information and services that promote independent living and address fundamental needs, such as food, housing, and transportation.

DIAL is operated as a collaboration between a consortium of organizations serving people with disabilities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). The consortium includes:

  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL),
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD),
  • Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU),
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD),
  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL),
  • National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN), and
  • The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

This collaboration benefits from the disability networks’ extensive knowledge and expertise in meeting the needs of people with disabilities across the U.S. and n4a’s decades of experience operating the Eldercare Locator, the only federally funded national information and referral resource that supports consumers across the spectrum of issues affecting older Americans. By leveraging these capabilities, ACL was able to launch this critical tool in less than six weeks.

DIAL was created through a partnership between the Administration for Community Living and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help older adults and people with disabilities get COVID-19 vaccines. With support from CDC, ACL also:

  • Increased the capacity of the Eldercare Locator to connect older adults, including those who are unable to leave their homes and those who live in underserved communities, to local COVID-19 vaccination resources.
  • Issued nearly $93 million in grants to the aging and disability networks in every state and territory to provide critical services to overcome barriers that are preventing millions of those most at-risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19 from receiving vaccines.

Launched in 1991, the Eldercare Locator is the only national information and referral resource to provide support to consumers across the spectrum of issues affecting older Americans. The Locator was established and is funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).