x
Breaking News
More () »

Denver's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Denver, Colorado | 9NEWS.com

'People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been forgotten': Council pushes for vaccine priority for high-risk group

The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council reports the mortality rate is 4-to-5 times higher compared to others who contract COVID-19.

BOULDER, Colo. — When it comes to protecting his son, Bob Lawhead said he wants his son to have the ability to be protected from COVID-19.

"My son is 24 years old. He has Down syndrome," Lawhead said. 

Lawhead is the policy advisor to the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, a group that released a report stating that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are 4-to-5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to everyone else.

"When you have 4-to-5 times greater risk of death, there is reason to prioritize you," Lawhead said.

RELATED: WHO approves AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Lawhead said people with disabilities often have other medical conditions related to the disability. He also said taking standard precautions can be a challenge.

"Many people with developmental disabilities just have a difficult time understanding the importance of social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing," Lawhead said.

Lawhead said Jess has been trapped in his home for months. He can't go out to volunteer. He can't go out to work at Cosmo's Pizza in Boulder. But Lawhead said the issue is bigger than his son. He said it impacts an estimated 75,000 people around Colorado at a time when teachers and other essential workers are starting to get the vaccine.

"I appreciate the fact that Colorado is trying to make that balance," Lawhead said. "We do feel however that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been forgotten in that metric."

Lawhead said he is making an appeal to the governor to add this group of people with disabilities to the vaccine prioritization list. 

"It is a little frustrating to see other people moving into the 1B category and obviously moving up ahead of this very, very vulnerable group," Lawhead said.

A spokesperson with Gov. Jared Polis' office released this statement on Monday evening:

"The state’s prioritization is guidance to our providers on how to manage our constrained supply of vaccines with demand in order to save the most lives possible and end the pandemic as quickly as possible. Colorado has prioritized all congregate settings serving people with disabilities were inoculated in Phase 1A. This includes 71 facilities serving people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The comorbidities in 1B.3 are People age 16 to 59 with two high risk conditions as listed are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1B.3 which includes Coloradans with cancer (defined as patients who are currently receiving treatment or have received treatment within the last month for cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity (BMI of 30 or more), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant, disabilities that prevent mask-wearing. In addition, People age 16 to 59 with one high risk condition as listed are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 2 which includes Coloradans with cancer (defined as patients who are currently receiving treatment or have received treatment within the last month for cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity (BMI of 30 or more), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant, disabilities that prevent mask-wearing. We are open to a dialogue with the disability community about how to protect people from COVID-19 until the vaccine can be made more widely available."

RELATED: By the numbers: Comparing the COVID-19 death toll to the 1918 flu, H1N1 and more

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: COVID-19 Vaccine