Vaccine Education Initiative: National Initiative Making Local Impact

As an affiliate of The Autism Society of America, AuSM shares the national org’s belief that improving the vaccination experience is a critical step toward achieving more equitable healthcare for people with autism and all neurodiverse individuals. As part of our strategic partnership on health equity, the Vaccine Education Initiative (VEI) is a national program that AuSM implements locally to address systemic barriers while promoting vaccine education, confidence, and access.

With an emphasis on providing a more sensory-friendly experience for patients, we’re creating a path for increased vaccination rates for autistic individuals and those with disabilities and complex support needs. Participants in AuSM-assisted vaccination clinics can expect:

  • longer appointment times, allowing patients to take their time
  • availability of support tools to help prepare for the appointment
  • a private, sensory-friendly area for vaccine distribution
  • availability of sensory-friendly tools for comfort and engagement
  • patient and family guidance from onsite experts in autism, disability, and accommodation

Here’s an outline of our shared commitment through the VEI to providing the resources and connections that improve outcomes for patients, providers, caregivers, and our community:

  • Breaking down barriers: Address the health equity challenges faced by people with autism across their lifetime – specifically around accessible, inclusive healthcare.
  • Educating and vaccinating: Ensure anyone in the autism community has access to info, resources, support systems, and specialists – especially to expand access to vaccinations an overall health.
  • Training healthcare providers: 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.
  • Creating access: Ensure that all individuals and families who want a vaccination are able to receive a vaccination in safe and supportive environments.

In Minnesota, AuSM’s VEI partners include The Kid Experts at Children’s Minnesota, The Olmsted Medical Center, RT Autism Awareness Foundation, and Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN), with 2023 vaccine clinics in Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Rochester, and St. Paul.

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