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VACCINATION PRIORITY

VACCINATING PEOPLE IN COLORADO WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AND CHRONIC CARE NEEDS SHOULD BE A PRIORITY

Letter From LLOYD LEWIS, president and CEO of arc Thrift Stores

As president and CEO of one of the state’s largest employers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and as the father of a 17-year-old young man with Down syndrome I am troubled that this vulnerable population -- my son, my employees and friends, and the thousands of people in Colorado with IDD and chronic care needs -- is not being adequately protected during the COVID crisis.

I urge you to contact the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, your state representative and senator to help advocate for this important part of our community so that they are made a higher priority on the vaccination list. Here are the email addresses for our Governor, governorpolis@state.co.us and our Lieutenant Governor, Dianne.Primavera@state.co.us This link has been recently updated to provide your Colorado senators and representatives based on your home address.

We want people with IDD and other disabilities to be immediately prioritized within Phase 1B of Colorado’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and for them to be able to obtain the vaccine from their provider or pharmacy when available just as everyone else.

Some sobering statistics to consider:

  • According to the FAIR Health survey, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities under the age of 70 were 4 to 5 times more likely to die following COVID-19 infection than the general population.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now identified people with Down syndrome as being at high risk of severe illness following COVID-19 infection.
  • According to year-end figures, there were over 1.3 million Coloradans ahead of people with IDD and other disabilities to receive the vaccine (except for those people with IDD and other disabilities currently living in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes).

My son, our employees with IDD, and all Coloradoans with IDD and other disabilities are my heart and soul. I cannot sit idly by while the disability community is overlooked. Any further loss of life for any of these wonderful souls would cut at me, and Colorado, deeply. Even a single loss of life, preventable with vaccination, is one life too many. Please join me as we champion for those in our community who cannot do so for themselves!

Best Regards,
Lloyd Lewis
President/CEO

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