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People with disability and COVID-19

8-minute read

If you develop symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

Quick read and other languages

Quick read information on COVID-19 including symptoms, getting tested and recovering. Also available in 15 languages.

Do people with a disability have a higher risk of serious infection?

Some people with disability will be at greater risk because:

  • they have different conditions that overlap, including chronic conditions and weakened immune systems
  • they have difficulties in physical distancing – especially people who rely on support and assistance from family, carers and support workers
  • they may be unable to safely wear a mask
  • they live in higher risk accommodation, such as a group home or larger facility

It’s important that people with disability continue to protect themselves from COVID-19, by getting vaccinated, staying home if they’re sick, getting tested if they have any cold- or flu-like symptoms and physical distancing when possible.

Wearing a mask can help protect people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 if they’re in an area with community transmission and physical distancing is not possible.

Consult your doctor if you’re uncertain whether wearing a mask is safe for you.

How can I avoid catching COVID-19?

Maintaining good hygiene and practising physical distancing are the best ways to avoid catching COVID-19.

As with any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccination may not fully protect everyone, and it’s not known how long it provides protection. However, COVID-19 vaccination is very effective at preventing people from becoming very unwell with COVID-19.

It’s important to wash your hands frequently, regularly clean and disinfect surfaces you use often and avoid contact with people who are unwell with a cold or flu-like symptoms.

Physical distancing helps reduce the risk of a virus being transmitted. You should:

  • stay 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with
  • avoid crowds and mass gatherings where it is hard to 1.5m away from others
  • avoid gatherings in enclosed spaces

Learn more about how to avoid catching COVID-19.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom and Antiviral Eligibility Checker to find out if you need medical help.

Where can people with disability get vaccinated?

Use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to book your COVID-19 vaccination or booster.

If you need help booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, call the Disability Gateway number on 1800 643 787. This phone line is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST.

People with disability, including National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, can be vaccinated at:

  • their residential-care facility
  • disability vaccination clinics
  • participating general practices
  • participating pharmacists
  • Commonwealth vaccination clinics
  • state- and territory-run vaccination clinics
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

Need help booking your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

You can text Hey EVA to 0481 611 382. Someone from the National Coronavirus Helpline will call you back and find you a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

EVA (Easy Vaccine Access) is available every day from 7am to 10pm (AEST) with free interpreting assistance.

You can also call the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787 for help with COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings.

Will I need a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a booster dose?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the primary vaccination course in people who are severely immunocompromised.

This recommendation applies to all individuals aged 5 years and over with certain conditions or on therapies leading to severe immunocompromise.

Three primary doses are also recommended for children aged 6 months to less than 5 years who have severe immunocompromise or disability or who have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

People aged 16 years with severe immunocompromise should also receive a booster dose 3 months after completing their primary course. From 4 months after receiving their initial booster dose, they should get another booster dose, known as a ‘winter’ dose.

This is to address the risk of suboptimal or non-response to the standard schedule.

Learn more about third doses and boosters.

Can I use my NDIS plan to buy PPE and RATs?

NDIS participants can use their NDIS funds to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks, face shields and gloves when:

  • they have a reasonable and necessary need for PPE items
  • the items are used when their disability worker is providing support
  • they receive an average of at least 1 hour a day of face-to-face daily living supports

Participants who are required to use rapid antigen tests (RATs) in order to receive their NDIS supports can also purchase RATs with their core supports.

For more information, go to NDIS Coronavirus.

Can I get my food and medicines delivered to me at home?

If you need urgent medicines delivered to your home, speak to your pharmacist about available options.

If you have a paper prescription, you must post it or get someone to take it to the pharmacy before they can deliver the medicines.

If you have an electronic prescription, you can send a copy of the QR code to your pharmacy. The pharmacy can then send the medicines to the address on the prescription — make sure your healthcare provider has your right address.

Friends, family and neighbours may be able to help get essential supplies, including food, for you.

If you don't have anyone nearby who can help, you can order groceries online.

Learn more about accessing essential supplies during COVID-19.

Related topics

Caring for someone else

Caring for someone else

If you are looking after someone in your home there are things you can do to keep yourself, your household and the person with COVID-19 safe. Learn more here.

Preparing for COVID

Preparing for COVID

Use this checklist to prepare a kit that will help you manage your COVID-19 symptoms at home, should you become infected.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2022

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