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Lou and Talia's Vaccine Stories

Talia's Vaccine Story

Why did I want the vaccine?

Talia was offered the vaccine because she has a developmental disability. Her father booked Talia’s appointment online at a large university vaccination site. Talia wanted to get the vaccine because she did not want to get COVID. Talia was anxious and afraid. Talia is afraid of needles and waiting in long lines does not make her feel good.

What helped me prepare for the vaccine?

To get ready for her appointment , Talia asked her mom to read Kory’s Story aloud. She also read the Social Story from Surrey Place and the Easy Read Booklets about the COVID Vaccine from HCARDD. Talia found the social story most helpful. She liked being able to see what all the steps would look like. Knowing what was going to happen helped Talia feel less anxious. Talia also found it helpful to ask friends and family her questions and hear from others about what getting the vaccine was like. Talia spoke with friends over text and Facetime. She liked being able to ask questions as they came up for her by text and Facebook messenger.

Some questions Talia asked her friends are:

  • Do I stand up for the shot?
  • Where [in my body] do I get the shot?
  • What should I wear?
  • What questions will they ask me?

Talia’s mom was able to go to the vaccination center the day before the appointment to see what it would be like. She asked a volunteer if there were any accommodations available and was shown a separate entrance for people with disabilities. This would be helpful for Talia so that she did not have to stand in the long line.

On the day of the shot Talia found that taking deep breaths, texting friends and going with her dad made her feel better. She was still anxious. Talia waited 15 minutes in a waiting room for the nurse to be ready. She spent this time taking breaths and texting friends. She had packed her Easy Read Booklets in case she wanted to read them while she waited, but decided not to.


Once the nurse arrived, she did not have to wait much longer until she got the shot. Talia felt proud after and felt that it was “kinda cool”. She was relieved that it was over.


What I didn’t find helpful:

Talia waited for 15 minutes in the waiting room afterwards. She brought her book but did not read it. It was hard to wait.

When she got to the vaccination centre she was surprised that she had to change her mask to a medical mask. It would have been easier if she knew this before. 

There was no information that Talia would be able to use the second entrance, as it was only advertised an accessible entrance. If Talia’s mom did not go in person beforehand they may not have known. It would be helpful if this was promoted better.

Advice for other people

  • Take deep breaths
  • Check out the vaccination location beforehand (ask about accommodations!)
  • Talk to friends/family and ask questions
  • Easy read information


Lou's Vaccine Story

Why did I want the vaccine?

Lou has been living at his parents’ home since the pandemic started.  As an older man with Down syndrome, everyone wanted to do what they could to keep him safe from getting COVID-19. When it was his turn to get vaccinated, there was a problem. Lou doesn’t like needles and was very worried about getting one.


What helped me prepare for the vaccine?

Lou’s siblings and parents helped to support Lou together.

To prepare for the vaccine Lou’s brother ordered “fake needles” that they used to practice getting the shot. They did this several times at home so that Lou was used to what this may be like.

Lou’s parents drove Lou and his brother to the vaccine centre so that they could easily get to the entrance.  They also rented a wheelchair to make it easier for Lou to get in and out of the building. 


On the day of the shot, Lou’s sister who he trusts joined them. This also helped Lou’s brother feel supported. Lou also took some medicine that would help him feel a bit less anxious that day. Lou planned a special trip to Tim Horton’s after the shot to get an ice cappuccino, and this gave him something to look forward to.

When he was seated and waiting for the needle he talked to his siblings about things that he likes. He talked about Halloween and what he wanted to dress up as this year. This helped keep him busy. The shot was over quickly, and he was able to sit with his brother and sister after during the waiting period.


What I didn’t find helpful:

One thing that was upsetting that they didn’t think about before going was the idea of getting a bandaid put on when it was over (Lou dislikes bandaids more than needles!). They talked about it with the nurse who helped make sure that a bandaid was not necessary. 


Advice for other people:

  • Practice getting the shot before at home
  • Bring friends or family with you
  • Plan something to look forward to after your shot


Did you get the vaccine? Do you want to share your story? 

We are hoping to share the experiences of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who have got the vaccine. Send an email to if you want to share your experience! Some things to think about: 1) Why did you want the vaccine?; 2) How did you prepare? What helped you get ready?; 3) What was the experience like- what worked and what didn't?; and finally 4) any advice for other people that are getting ready for their shot.