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Legal Update: CVS and Federal Prosecutors Reach Settlement Regarding Vaccine Portal Accessibility

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Federal prosecutors and CVS Pharmacy have reached a settlement to ensure that the company’s online portal to schedule vaccinations is “fully accessible to people with disabilities.” According to an allegation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island, CVS was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to the portal being inaccessible to customers who use screen-reading software and to those having difficulties using a mouse. A federal investigation found that, for example, the types of vaccines available were not read to users of screen readers and that in the section where appointments can be made, screen readers were informed that all time slots were checked when users had not made a selection. Although CVS made no admission of wrongdoing, the company has agreed to make sure that its vaccine scheduling portal is compliant with “industry guidelines for making online information accessible to users with disabilities” and to test the website regularly and quickly repair problems. CVS stated: ”’We’re committed to supporting the health of our communities, which includes making COVID-19 vaccinations accessible for all eligible patients.’” U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary Cunha issued a statement saying that, “’While web accessibility is always important, when it comes to critical health services like COVID-19 vaccination, making sure that everyone — regardless of disability — can access information and care is essential… This office is committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA to eliminate unnecessary barriers that stand in the way of lifesaving care.’” For more information, read the article in U.S. News and World Report: CVS, Feds Reach Agreement on Vaccine Portal Accessibility.