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USD Center for Disabilities Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative

VERMILLION, S.D. – The Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine has launched a program to encourage all people with disabilities in South Dakota to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by July 26, 2021.

Titled, “COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Confidence for People with Disabilities,” this initiative will educate the safety of the vaccine and the importance of being vaccinated to those in the disability community. A variety of public outreach tools will be used to convey this information.

“This work builds upon our efforts pursued throughout the COVID-19 crisis to support vaccination efforts for individuals with disabilities, their families and direct support professionals. It is critical we promote accessibility during all steps of the vaccination process to ensure that all people with disabilities can access a vaccine,” said Eric Kurtz, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Disabilities.

One especially important component of the program is to engage family members of people with disabilities. “Family members are important influencers in the lives of people who have a disability,” said Kurtz. “Providing the tools and resources to support those family conversations around vaccines will get us one step closer to our goal.”

The project will engage numerous strategic partners across South Dakota, including state Departments of Health, Human Services and Social Services, along with the Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights South Dakota, Community Support Providers of South Dakota, Communication Services for the Deaf, the Centers for Independent Living and other organizations and health partners.

The program is made possible through a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News