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People with disabilities get vaccinated at Omaha-metro clinic

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A one-day clinic in the Omaha metro is vaccinating some of the most vulnerable of our community from COVID-19.

Twenty-year-old Leah can hardly contain herself, it’s been a long time coming. The day did come with some nerves.

She kept saying ‘I’m gonna go get a shot...will it hurt?’ And you know, kept asking but we said really, it isn’t painful, you know that she’ll be just fine. [And] we came in and she did fine and we did sit down and she got nervous and we had to hold her hand but then, it was quickly over with. It was painless though,” Leah’s mom, Mary Jo Cassner.

Leah received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, she was born with Down syndrome and heart problems.

“Just glad that we can get her vaccinated because we were concerned for her because of her weak immune system, that she might contract this. But thank goodness she hasn’t even gotten the flu or anything, any kind of cold this winter. I think it’s from wearing a mask,” said Mary Jo.

Twenty-one-year-old TJ McNew was here for his first shot as well, TJ also has Down syndrome.

“They didn’t have them at the beginning of the line and I think it’s very important because when TJ gets sick he gets real sick with pneumonia and so you know it’s very important for TJ to have his vaccination,” said TJ’s mom, Carolyn Lyons.

Researchers estimate people like Leah and TJ are five times more likely to die from COVID.

“This would be a population that is high risk, it is extremely important for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities to take part in the vaccine. It is safe, effective, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the vaccine,” said DHHS Director of Division of Developmental Disabilities, Tony Green.

Those receiving shots on Friday have had a long wait but they all echo this thought.

“We’re just happy to be here. Happy he hasn’t been sick thus far and thankful for what we have,” said Carolyn.

More than 600 people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities signed up for the one-day event. The Nebraska Dept of Human Services is planning three more similar clinics around the state in the coming days.

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