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Local advocates for intellectual, developmental disabilities see the need for quicker vaccines



TOPEKA, Kan. – As the general population around the country waits to be vaccinated, people in with loved ones who have intellectual and developmental disabilities are wanting the vaccine to arrive quicker.

A recent study on the effects of coronavirus show the risk of death for someone with down syndrome at 40-years-old is equivalent to an 80-year-old in the general population.

Madisyn Collette is a Topeka seven-year-old with CHARGE syndrome. The disorder affects multiple parts of her body, from her general growth to her brain.

“One thing about kids with CHARGE syndrome is that they learn how to overcome a lot of obstacles,” said Madisyn’s mother, Lisa Collette. “So she’s very much a problem solver, and that’s really true of people with CHARGE syndrome. They have to learn how to compensate and they have to learn how to overcome challenges.”

Madisyn has been overcoming the challenges and changes of the pandemic but one thing that needs more help are her respiratory issues that could be complicated further by coronavirus, and potentially kill her.

She goes to school at Topeka 501. The district went back to in-person learning on Monday. Her mom said that hands on learning is critical for people with developmental disabilities, and learning at home was not ideal for her daughter. With a vaccination, she could have protection from the virus and be back in person while her mom can breathe easy that she’s safe while learning.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are between 2 and 10 times more likely to die than the general population,” said Matt Fletcher, the executive director of InterHab in Kansas.

InterHab works towards improving developmental disability policy. Fletcher has been advocating at the state and national level for both people with disabilities and also the workers that take care of them during the pandemic.