Group asks state to prioritize people with Down syndrome for COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

GUYTON, Ga. (WSAV) – As the country waits for the COVID-19 vaccine to be made available to the general population, one group dedicated to fighting for people with Down syndrome has asked the state of Georgia for help.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) wrote a letter to the Georgia Department of Public Health, requesting that officials think of people with Down syndrome when deciding who should get the vaccine first.

“With politics, you want to make sure your voices are heard,” John Bogardus, president of the NDSS’s Lowcountry chapter, explained. “We really want to advocate for distribution and put priority on those individuals who are more susceptible.”

Backed by a study on COVID-19 effects from the T21 Research Society, Bogardus and his fellow advocates argue the risk of death for someone with Down syndrome at 40 years old is equivalent to that of an 80-year-old in the general population.

“Because of complex medical conditions and because of comorbidities that happen in this population,” Bogardus explained. “At a younger age [people with Down syndrome] are more susceptible.”

This particular issue hits home for Bogardus because his daughter, Lainey, was born with Down syndrome.

“With her coming into my life, it changed me as a husband, as a dad, as an advocate,” Bogardus said with a smile.

If Bogardus and the NDSS get what they ask for, Lainey may not even be included in the prioritized group of people with Down syndrome. Bogardus says that’s “OK” because he’s focused on protecting those with the most risk and ensuring a better future for this community.

“My princess, when she’s 40-years-old, hopefully, there will be other people who have a voice and be an advocate for change in our community.”

WSAV reached out to the Georgia Department of Public Health for a response to the letter and are waiting to hear back. The department is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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