Vaccine Education Initiative

The Autism Society of America believes that improving the vaccination experience is a critical step towards achieving more equitable healthcare for people with Autism and all neurodiverse individuals. As part of our strategic focus on health equity, the Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) is a national program that addresses systemic barriers, while promoting vaccine education, confidence, and access.

For VEI specific information,
contact us: vei@autismsociety.org

The connection is you.™

The
connection
is you.™

Program Goals

Through the VEI program, the Autism Society works with its nationwide affiliate network and healthcare partners to achieve national reach with local impact. Our goals include:

Increase Vaccine Confidence

Create community connections that promote trusted messengers, support informed decision-making, and self-advocacy.

Educate Healthcare Providers

Empower healthcare providers with the knowledge, understanding, and resources they need to meet diverse communication, sensory, social, and cognitive needs through a universal design framework.

Promote Community Vaccine Education

Deliver vaccine facts and evidence-based information to the disability communities and our affiliates. Develop accessible formats of vaccination information, including plain language, visual supports, and other languages spoken in communities.

Increase Vaccination Accessibility

Create accessible vaccination procedures and environments through compassionate care, accessible physical environments, accessible
communication, scheduling, sensory tools, and strategies to mitigate anxiety.

Impact

While focusing on vaccination, — a critical priority in healthcare — we have the opportunity to create systemic change to increase health equity. The Autism Society is committed to providing the resources and connections that improve outcomes for patients, providers, caregivers, and their communities.

Address the health equity challenges faced by people with Autism across their lifetime — specifically around accessible, inclusive healthcare.

Ensure anyone in the Autism community has access to information, resources, support systems, and specialists — especially to expand access to vaccinations and overall health.

Bridge the gap — so that healthcare providers are equipped with training and resources needed to address the unique healthcare needs of the Autism and disability community.

Ensure that all individuals and families who want a vaccination are able to receive vaccination in safe and supportive environments.

By rewriting the vaccine experience, we are creating a path for increased vaccination rates for Autistic individuals and those with disabilities and complex support needs.

Impact
Impact

As we expand nationwide, our pilot program has shown incredible results. In the first two years of this groundbreaking program, we:

Resources

The Autism Society of America and our partners have developed fact-based resources to support the Autism community and healthcare providers in achieving more equitable care. Access our free resources below:

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Participating Affiliates

To find an accessible vaccine clinic near you, check out our participating affiliates!

Partners

The Autism Society of America is proud to partner with national, state, and local leaders to promote health equity and the VEI. With over 60 partners and growing, here are a few highlights.

CDC/Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) The VEI started as a CDC-funded, AUCD sub-award pilot program in 2021 and launched network-wide in February 2022 across 12 affiliates.

In 2023, with support from USAging’s Aging and Disability Vaccination Collaborative (ADVC) and US Administration for Community Living, the VEI is expanding across our affiliate network to promote accessible vaccination through education and uptake of primarily flu and COVID-19 vaccines, but also shingles, pneumonia, and other routine vaccinations. The ADVC grant objectives focus on Autism and all disability, aging, BIPOC, Hispanic, LGBTQIA+, and rural communities.

Immunize.org and the Autism Society provided a healthcare professional training titled, “Improving the Vaccination Experience: Accessible Vaccination for Neurodiverse People at Any Age

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia collaborated on healthcare and parent/caregiver modules.

American Academy of Pediatrics supported a project in Louisiana that dispelled vaccine misinformation and promoted vaccine confidence in the community; it leveraged the community health infrastructure to implement culturally affirming COVID-19 vaccine confidence-building strategies.

These kits were made possible through a generous donation from the Thomas Family Fund – In memory of Sunil Thomas.

The Autism Society is partnering with APhA to support Operation Immunization through education, training, community engagement, and accessible vaccine clinics.

Skippack Pharmacy is committed to promoting health equity by providing accessible and inclusive vaccination services for all. Our mission is to ensure that every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, has the opportunity to receive essential vaccines. Through our dedicated efforts, we strive to bridge gaps in healthcare access and contribute to a healthier, more equitable community.

Statistics

Research has shown that individuals with Autism and their families have lower levels of healthcare utilization compared to individuals without Autism.

Give

With continued support for the Vaccine Education Initiative, we can increase access to care, and develop quality, trained providers to better serve the healthcare needs of Autistic individuals.

Whether you donate $5 or $500, every amount helps. If you can’t donate at this time, we ask that you click the share button to spread the word.

Testimonials

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“Everyone was absolutely awesome and provided such a positive experience for both me and my child. Thank you for the BEST vaccination experience ever! Our family was overjoyed to have been part of this clinic.”

Parent

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“Helping my daughter have a positive vaccination experience to help her move past her fears, and seeing her be so well respected. There was no anxiety about getting the second shot because of how smooth the first one went.”

Parent

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“The staff was wonderful, and our kids were completely comfortable and calm through what is typically a stressful situation. No tears were shed!”

Parent

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“The Buzzy Bee and quiet room was amazing! I did not even feel the shot!”

Participant

Partner Testimonials

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“The Autism Society's webinar received great attention across our network and requests to utilize their educational resources, tools, and vaccine kits. Immunize.org recognizes that the Autism Society’s vaccine resources, guides, tips, and visual tools are transformative to the vaccination experience.”

Dr. Kelly Moore, President/
CEO of Immunize.org

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“As a board member of a national Down Syndrome association, a leader in our nation’s immunization efforts and pharmacy profession, and a proud father of a son with Down Syndrome, I am passionate about the Autism Society’s Vaccine initiatives to advance vaccine education, confidence, and access to the disability community.”

Mitchel C. Rothholz, RPh, MBA

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“By meeting the needs of Autistic community members, we have an opportunity to meet a wide range of needs that exist in local communities, impacting multiple marginalized identities. This includes those with and without Autism, those who have been historically hesitant about vaccines, and those who are eager to get vaccinated but who face social, environmental, or other barriers to vaccination and/ or healthcare. I resoundingly support the Autism Society's Vaccine Education Initiative to increase Covid and Influenza vaccines within the aging and disability communities.”

Angela Shen, ScD, MPH Captain
(ret) US Public Health Service

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“I have never seen this happen so smoothly before. I loved being introduced to the shot blocker and Buzzy Bee.”

Participating Healthcare Provider

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“There’s no reason why we can’t do this in every clinic. We can and we should.”

Participating Healthcare Provider

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“We've encountered a few situations with autistic patients where we have utilized the buzzy device, enabling us to successfully undergo blood draws. Furthermore, families express astonishment at the availability of tools that enhance the quality of service for their autistic family members.”

Partner