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Autism Society of Minnesota to offer first-of-its-kind sensory-friendly COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Private rooms, drive-thru access, multiple vaccines, along with other accommodations, will be available if you make an appointment.

ST PAUL, Minn. — More than three million Minnesotans have now gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But it's not always easy for everyone to get it.

That's where the Autism Society of Minnesota (AUSM) is stepping in.

AUSM's St. Paul building will be transformed from office setting to sensory clinic – one of the first in the state to serve people with autism. The clinic is scheduled for July 15.

"There's a little justice in bringing an event that is designed specifically for disabled people because they deserve it," said Ellie Wilson, the organization's executive director.

Wilson says the group serves up to 14,000 families across the state whose loved ones often have anxiety about unfamiliar experiences and changes in routine. 

Getting a shot can be especially upsetting. 

Wilson partnered with the Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN) to create a video that walks people through the process. 

"It's really telling a story about what to expect," said MAAN's Maren Christenson Hoffer. 

Her son was diagnosed when he was three, and she teamed up with Fatima Molas to support other parents. 

"My job is to make sure they understand what is a risk, and what is at stake here," said Molas who also works with MAAN.

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Molas' son also has autism, and together they're providing the first of its kind clinic where nurses will come to you whether in a private room or the parking lot.

"There are so many people who say the barrier is, I can't sit in the waiting room or wait in the line," explained Wilson.

Hennepin Healthcare nurses will also administer two vaccines - Pfizer to anyone 12 and up or the single shot Johnson and Johnson to accommodate whether someone is capable of coming back.

Interpreters will also be on hand.

"Our goal is really that we don't want anyone to come unsuccessfully," said Wilson. "People that come here, we will find a way to make it happen."

The groups are making vaccinations more equitable to help Minnesota continue to make progress in the pandemic.

There are about 80 appointments available and you can register here if you're interested. 

Questions about registering for appointments?
Contact Nicole Sebesta at Hennepin Healthcare, Nicole.Sebesta@hcmed.org or call 651.269.7324.

Special accommodations needed during the clinic?
Contact AuSM at 651.647.1083 or e-mail info@ausm.org.

RELATED: Minnesota autism advocate writes new book based on son's journey