Speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Health in Lisbon, the head of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) underlined that there is a real impact of the disease caused by the new coronavirus on this population and that the proposal for its inclusion deserved the endorsement of the task force coordinating the vaccination plan and the office of the Assistant Secretary of State and Health, António Lacerda Sales.

“Asked whether Down syndrome should be included in the priority groups or not, we went on to do an analysis of the impact of this disease on hospitalization and mortality and having concluded that it does, at least in Portugal and other countries, we obviously made this proposal the task force and the secretary of state's office and the proposal was welcomed ”, he stressed.

According to Graça Freitas, about 3,500 people with this condition and an age above 16 years will be involved, although the total population with Down syndrome corresponds to “about 6,000 people”, but who cannot be vaccinated at the moment due to the licensing of current vaccines only after a certain age: 16 years for the Moderna vaccine and 18 years for the Pfizer / BioNTech and Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines.

“We are open to being able to analyze other groups that are being proposed, either in terms of reducing morbidity and mortality, or in other areas, namely, adding resilience to society. Being a stabilized plan in its guidelines, it can and should be adjusted according to the needs of the country ”, added Graça Freitas, opening the door to the inclusion of other clinical conditions among the priority groups for vaccination.

In Portugal, 16,317 people died from 804,562 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.