VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Like many parents of older children with disabilities in Connecticut, Stacy and William Selavka thought their 24-year-old autistic son B.J. would get a COVID-19 vaccine sooner rather than later. Then they heard Governor Ned Lamont’s vaccine allocation rollout plan that goes strictly by age, leaving their son weeks away.
“I was crushed. I was devastated. The initial impact, I just cried. I’m still fighting back tears,” says Stacy Selavka when she heard the news.
“As a parent, I would give up my vaccine. I would give him my vaccine because I know I have the coping mechanisms. He does not,” she added.
As for their age-based vaccination guidelines, the governor’s office says these are the impossible trade-offs the governor has to decide on every day.
“Unfortunately some people who have valid concerns about where they’ve ended up in the prioritization and the governor just has to try and make the best balance on behalf of all the 3.6 million people who live in the state,” says Josh Gabelle, Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer.
35 year-old Rachel O’Grady of Lyme was born with a chromosomal abnormality and a form of Spina Bifida. She says she gets very sick, once having pneumonia for five months. High risk, she can’t work as a nanny and has been home for almost a year. She says that she is not eligible for a vaccine until April 12.
“If I do get COVID, I do believe it would be a long haul if I were to survive because of the way my body works. My body does not always produce an immune response when I get sick,” says O’Grady.
“I feel that those of us with disabilities should be prioritized over those who are healthy, who if they were to contract the virus they have a better chance of surviving,” she adds.
B.J.’s parents have two problems: Their son not being vaccinated sooner and his day program has been closed since last March. They say he had been thriving with the routine of attending the program.
“I really miss Horizons,” says B.J.
“The longer we go the more of him we’re losing,” says his father who notices how introverted his son has become, missing the day program and activities such as bowling and going out for pizza.