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Intellectually disabled and advocates fighting to get COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 2:28 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 20:20:45-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — “We can’t just wait until they are the last population to be able to get it, because there's so many opportunities that can be given to them if they get that vaccine, and can get back out into the population,” said Samantha Nunez, Board Member, Gigi’s Playhouse

We all have different skills and weaknesses that make us who we are, and those who are intellectually disabled want the same opportunities, as everyone else receiving the COVID- 19 vaccines.

Simply wanting to raise awareness, Samantha Nunez Board Member at GiGi’s playhouse, A Down Syndrome Achievement Center in Fort Myers says, life during the pandemic has been tough adjusting to the new norm.

“Especially with the changes in school, especially being homeschooled, with our adult population now that they don't get the opportunities to go out with their friends and they are staying at home more,” said Nunez.

Adding, specifically for those with Down Syndrome, Nunez says over 50% of their population has underlying health conditions, putting them at higher risk of contracting Coronavirus.

“A lot of them are obese, so that underlying issue entails type 2 diabetes, and the list goes on. Especially for our adults and our teenagers, it's very important for them to have this opportunity to get the vaccine so we can make sure there's no complications with COVID,” said Nunez.

We reached out to Lee County and the Department of Health to ask how are they working to protect this community of people and they tell us in a statement.

“From our operational perspective, we can tell you that Lee County is committed to supporting the FDOH-Lee efforts to get vaccinations to all members of the community as doses become available,” said Betsy Clayton, Lee County Government, Communications Director.

Nunez whose daughter happens to have Down Syndrome says as a parent she’s worked to make life easy during this time, but she like many other parents and caregivers of those who are intellectually disabled wants their loved ones to safely get back to the things they love.

“Maybe go back into a job situation, hang out with their friends, go to the movies, those are the types of things, just to be social again. It's very isolating for anybody, but especially when you take away the minimal thing our population has been able to do. They are just as capable of making this world a better place, as the rest of us. So, we have to just remind ourselves that people with intellectual disabilities might be delayed in certain aspects of their life that doesn't mean that they are not people,” said Nunez.