Minnesotans with Down syndrome should be vaccinated in phase 1b

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Adults with Down syndrome are 10 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than their same aged peers. This increased risk is well documented and confirmed by multiple research studies.

Minnesota’s vaccine allocation plans do not adequately prioritized people with Down syndrome (or developmental disabilities in general) given the increased risks. While those that live in congregate settings (group homes) are prioritized, those that do not are left out in the cold.

Roughly 80% of Minnesota’s Down syndrome population lives with family or in the community. While we are all frustrated with the lockdown and life changes COVID has brought, it’s nothing compared to most adults with Down syndrome. 

- People who had received in-person supports prior to the pandemic have experienced substantial changes in the type and duration of their services, which has had negative effects on their well-being.

- Access to health, mental health, and education services has been seriously disrupted. One study found that more than 70% of people with IDD living in the community experienced a loss of at least some health services stemming from COVID-19, nearly 25% reporting a loss of critical care services. 

- 74% of people with IDD had lost one or more services entirely, with only 39% reporting that at least one of their services had been delivered virtually.

Simply stated, we should all be outraged that adults with Down syndrome are not at the top of the list for vaccination. There’s no group with a greater risk of death or more significant loss of quality of life during the pandemic than those with Down syndrome. 

We are asking that the State of Minnesota move adults with Down syndrome to the front of phase 1b, as their risk of severe illness and death is significantly greater than any other group identified in 1b or 1c. Further, we are asking that the state work with the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota to ensure the plan for vaccination is communicated and administered in a way that reaches the greatest number of Minnesotans with Down syndrome. 

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