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COVID-19 is especially deadly for adults with Down syndrome, but many can’t get a vaccine shot

The Story

The elderly woman on the phone was heartbroken. Her brother, who had Down syndrome, had never lacked a family member at his side in his 60-plus years. But then he became severely ill with COVID-19, and she’d had to leave him at a local hospital, confused and alone. He died two weeks later. Now she was calling the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota to ask if she could help spare other families from the same fate by helping the agency in its efforts to lobby state health officials to prioritize COVID-19 vaccination for adults with Down syndrome. “He was without his family for the first time in his life at the end of his life,” said Sarah Curfman, the association’s executive director. “She said, ‘I don’t want anyone else to go through that.’”