As we turn the calendar to 2021, the Les Turner ALS Foundation is taking proactive steps to help ensure that those living with neuromuscular disease, including ALS, are given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. On Wednesday, January 6, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he was lowering the age to 65 of those eligible to get vaccinated in Phase 1B, which is the next phase eligible for vaccination.
During the week of January 4, we sent letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago Department of Public Health, and the seven Illinois county health departments in our service area (Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will) laying out the rationale for priority access and steps they should be taking to provide early access to COVID-19 vaccinations for those with ALS and their caregivers.
The letters were co-signed by the Andrea Pauls Backman, CEO, Les Turner ALS Foundation, and members of our Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine – Senda Ajroud-Driss, MD, John Coleman III, MD, Robert Kalb, MD and Lisa Wolfe, MD.
In December 2020, we partnered with 19 other neuromuscular disease organizations, led by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, to help ensure that those living with neuromuscular disease are given priority when it comes to access to COVID-19 immunization and treatments. As part of this large group of neuromuscular advocacy groups, joint letters were sent to each state’s department of public health asking that they prioritize people with neuromuscular disease in their vaccine rollout plans.
We will continue to take proactive steps to see that the ALS community receives the vaccines and treatments they need. We have updated our COVID-19 resources page with information about the safety of the vaccine including links to your local county health departments where you can register yourself or your loved one to receive regular updates about when and where they can receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
As always, the Les Turner ALS Foundation is advocating on behalf of those living with ALS and their loved ones, every step of the way.