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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Down syndrome Hoosier families, caregivers call for vaccine eligibility

According to a U.K. study published last year, people with Down syndrome are 10 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the general population.

CARMEL, Ind. — Advocates for Hoosiers with Down syndrome and their families are calling on the state to open up vaccine eligibility to caregivers and family members.

“What we’re hoping for is that the governor or the health department would say ‘yes, absolutely, parents you can fit that category and check that box and get your vaccination,'” said Lisa Wells, Director of Down Syndrome Indiana.

According to a U.K. study published last year, people with Down syndrome are 10 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the general population.

State officials said in the next wave of vaccine eligible individuals, persons with Down syndrome will be included.

However, advocates worry it still leaves to many young people with Down syndrome unprotected because they aren’t old enough to receive the vaccine.

“Maybe a parent of a child who is medically fragile is saying, ‘this vaccine would be so helpful to protect my child because I am having to go in and out of the home,'” Wells said.

Credit: Natalie Palin
Natalie Palin and her son Jackson.

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The situation describes Natalie Palin of Carmel, who’s 6-year-old son, Jackson, has Down syndrome. She’s written a letter to state leaders asking to expand eligibility for families and caregivers.

“I feel that this is more for parents having the choice. If they feel that this is the right thing for their family, they should have that option knowing that our children are at high risk,” Palin said.

There are approximately 350,000 individuals with Down syndrome living within the United States. It is estimated that there are 7,000 to 8,000 individuals with Down syndrome in Indiana.