Dear MDSC member,

As the New Year begins, MDSC is committed to bringing our members the most current, accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines. 

Now that there is a vaccine available, we will be keeping you posted with all vaccine-related information on the Covid section of our website.

In consultation with our Medical & Scientific Advisory Council, we would like to help answer some of the most pressing questions about the vaccines to ensure that you have access to the information and resources you need.
MDSC Vaccine Information

Our MDSC Medical & Scientific Advisory Council reviewed this information for dissemination to our members:

Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Down Syndrome in Massachusetts
Should my loved one with Down syndrome get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group, a national organization of Down syndrome clinical experts, recommend that all adults with Down syndrome receive the vaccine, unless they have a specific contraindication.
How can my loved one with Down syndrome get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Massachusetts has outlined three phases for the COVID-19 vaccine. People with Down syndrome in Massachusetts would be eligible at the following times:
  • People with Down syndrome, ages 16 and older, living in congregate living arrangements (group homes) will be eligible during Phase 1 which is now underway in Massachusetts. Read the MA Department of Public Health's latest congregate care guidance here.
  • People aged 16 and older, who have 2 or more high-risk medical conditions, as defined by the CDC, will be eligible at the beginning of Phase 2. Down syndrome is defined as one of those high-risk medical conditions. Intellectual disability is a “neurological condition” and is another high-risk medical condition. Therefore, all people with Down syndrome, ages 16 and older, should be eligible to receive the vaccine in MA at the beginning of Phase 2. Here is a letter of medical necessity that families can ask primary care providers to sign for their loved one with Down syndrome. (Note that people ages 16–17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.)
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, estimated that the process for approving vaccines in children will begin in January, and that research data will likely need to be reviewed by the FDA before vaccines are distributed in people younger than 16 years.

When eligible for the vaccine, use this vaccine finder to find the location nearest you.
How can I explain and prepare my loved one with Down syndrome to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Easy-to-read booklets (“social stories”) about COVID-19 and vaccines have been created for people with intellectual disabilities by a healthcare organization in Canada. Here are also some excellent videos that you might consider using in answering some of the questions that you loved one with Down syndrome might have:
Video (1:00): How Would COVID Vaccines Work in the Body (Washington State Department of Health)
Video (2:56): Dreaming of a Safe COVID-19 Vaccine (Stanford Medicine)
Video (2:30): Vaccines Do Not Cause COVID-19 (COVID Prevention Network) 
In Closing

MDSC will continue to update families about Covid-19 related information as we learn more. Go here for a complete list of MDSC Covid-19 resources.

NOTE: The information provided in this communication does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical or legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available are for general informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Maureen Gallagher
Executive Director