As vaccine availability grows, Columbia father hopes those with Down Syndrome will be prioritized

As vaccine availability grows, Columbia father hopes those with Down Syndrome will be prioritized

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The list of people who can get a COVID-19 vaccine in South Carolina is growing.

Columbia resident Mike Neff hopes it will grow to include his son. Neff said his 35-year-old son, Carson, has Down Syndrome and has had two kidney replacements. The CDC lists both as aggravating medical conditions for the disease.

An October study in the U.K. published in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimated those with Down Syndrome could be at 10 times the risk of a COVID-19 related death.

Currently, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s vaccine website lists those with underlying health conditions in Phase 1C. That phase is slated for vaccinations in late spring.

“It makes no sense to me that they’re included in the general population in the third phase of this rollout when they are as susceptible or more susceptible than elderly populations,” Neff said.

Neff said he’s attempted to contact the CDC, DHEC, and the governor’s ombudsman about his concerns but to no avail.

“It’s pretty much the same thing. He’s not on the list. He can’t get it,” he said.

Neither DHEC nor the governor’s office responded to a request for comment on the story.

Family Connection of South Carolina CEO Amy Holbert said she is advocating for individuals with disabilities to be moved to Phase 1B.

“Parents hear [about the risks}, and they want something to happen. They want their loved one to be taken care of, to get the vaccine,” she said.

The nonprofit works with families across the state who have loved ones with disabilities. She said her organization is encouraging the families to advocate for a higher placement, over concerns they’re being overlooked.

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