Jackie McRoy is a home manager for The Arc of Central Alabama. She supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who live in a group home. Jackie is a direct support professional, who cares for her clients like family.

“The people I support mean everything to me,” said Jackie, who has supported people with disabilities for 8 years.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jackie and her team had to scramble to keep people safe. They did the best they could up against many challenges like a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a highly contagious and dangerous virus. As the pandemic surged, Jackie’s clients were the most at risk.

COVID-19 disproportionately sickens and kills people with disabilities. Despite exhaustive efforts to keep the virus out, it found its way into group homes and congregate care settings all over the country.

“Scary times … those days of the pandemic were scary times,” Jackie shared with The Arc.

Then, the virus hit closer to home than ever for Jackie. Her mother died from COVID. She was not vaccinated.

Jackie decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. She believes the vaccine saves lives – and could have saved her mother. Jackie has encouraged other support workers to get the vaccine.

She also joined The Arc’s health program in participating in a project focusing on COVID-19 vaccine outreach and public education. The program received a subgrant from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), as part of a grant AUCD received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Arc worked with The Arc of Central Alabama, The Arc of Arizona, The Arc of Indiana, and The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley in West Virginia to collaborate on the development of local radio public service announcements (PSAs) airing in certain markets in those states.

“The safe and effective COVID-nineteen vaccine changed things. It has allowed us to reopen and go about our lives, with more security about our health and the safety of those we love, including the people with disabilities I help every day,” said Jackie.

Jackie believes we are in a much better place, thanks to the vaccine. Listen to her PSA here.

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