Request for Applications

Increasing Access to Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for Individuals with Disabilities

TCDD issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for Increasing Access to Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for Individuals with Disabilities. With this grant, an organization will conduct communication and marketing activities to share information and resources that will reduce barriers and lead to an increase in the number of people who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Groups that will be included in project activities are people with developmental disabilities (DD), their families, friends, caregivers, direct-support professionals, and other health care providers.


A study across over 500 U.S. health care organizations revealed that individuals with DD are at substantially increased risk of dying from COVID-19. The American Association of Medical Colleges reports having an intellectual disability was the strongest independent risk factor for becoming infected with COVID-19 and the strongest independent risk factor, other than age, for COVID-19 mortality. Overall, patients with intellectual disabilities are six times more likely to die from COVID-19 than other people.

Vaccination can have a dramatic impact on people with DD. From December 2020 to February 2021, new COVID-19 infections among such individuals and their caregivers dropped roughly 80% in Tennessee, the first state to include people with DD in its initial vaccine rollout.

A CDC survey from April estimated that among all Americans, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy ranged from 3.8% to 25.6%. During that same period, about 27% of those with disabilities said either they would not get vaccinated or they were unsure, suggesting that vaccine hesitancy may be heightened in the disability community.  According to Emily Hotez, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA, building trust with the community and spreading vaccine confidence takes time. The rise in the delta variant makes these communication and outreach activities even more important in reducing risk among individuals with DD.

Individuals with DD, family members, caregivers, and direct service professionals have expressed interest in tailored materials such as images depicting the process rather than just words. TCDD audiences have also expressed interest in talking directly with peers and having opportunities for conversations with medical providers about vaccine safety. Education for vaccinators is also needed to improve interaction when administering the shot, including physical, sensory, and communication accommodations for people with DD.

About the RFA

The purpose of this RFA is to help TCDD develop communication materials and facilitate local outreach strategies, customized for local communities, to provide education and help reduce barriers to vaccinations.

Activities in this project should be related to the following areas:

  • Education about the importance of receiving a vaccine
  • Education about the safety of vaccines
  • Education about future recommendations for boosters and younger age groups
  • Helping with scheduling a vaccine appointment
  • Helping with arranging a community vaccine clinic
  • Arranging and providing accessible transportation
  • Providing companion and personal support
  • Identifying people unable to independently travel to a vaccination site
  • Providing technical assistance to local health departments on vaccine accessibility

Grantees will be expected to compile existing messages and materials about vaccination for individuals with DD from sources such as the CDC and other public health leaders. Grantees will also be asked to develop new products needed for Texas audiences including:

  • Individuals with DD
  • Family members of individuals with DD
  • Direct-support professionals and caregivers
  • Medical providers, including physicians, nurses, and others

Communication and outreach activities and products may include:

  • Posters and other print materials
  • Content development for press releases and other media articles
  • Infographics
  • Social media content
  • Videos
  • Continuing education unit/continuing medical education (CEU/CME) programs for professionals
  • Toolkits for local peer ambassadors and other local partners
  • Collection of personal stories about vaccine experiences

Grantees will also be asked to oversee and manage peer ambassadors in local outreach groups across the state. This includes recruitment of peer leaders; connecting local teams; payment of wages to peer leaders; providing toolkits of print materials and electronic content to individuals and teams to distribute in their communities; and assisting peers in scheduling informational events and vaccination clinics in their regions.

TCDD has funding available for one grant for up to $200,000. The project will end on Sept. 30, 2022.

More Information

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. CT on Oct. 22, 2021.

TCDD will hold a webinar to provide more information about TCDD’s processes for application review and grant award. Attendance is not required to be eligible to apply. The webinar will be held at 1:30 p.m. CT on Oct. 12, 2021. Please register in advance for this meeting.

The deadline to submit questions to TCDD about the RFA is Oct. 15, 2021. Questions must be emailed to apply@tcdd.texas.gov.

For additional information, view the complete RFA.


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