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June 3, 2021

Going the extra mile makes vaccination experience special for young man with Down syndrome

By Cynthia Weiss
The parents of a young Florida patient were so grateful for the caring approach offered to their son during his COVID-19 vaccine appointment that they called back to express their appreciation and share their story.

When the father of a 19-year-old patient with Down syndrome brought his son, Tyler White, for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, he was blown away by the "care, compassion and love" displayed by the team at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Tyler’s parents were moved by the experience and relieved that Tyler left his appointment feeling happy instead of stressed.

Days before the appointment, Tyler’s mom, Teresa White, wrote a note in the Patient Online Services portal asking for assistance. She explained that Tyler suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has a fear of crowds, and gets "nervous around needles."

The team in the COVID-19 Vaccination Center in Florida took the request to heart. And they made special arrangements to administer Tyler's vaccination in a calm, quiet environment.

Personal care from the first moment

Shortly after Tyler and his dad arrived at the vaccination center, they were warmly greeted by a staff member who asked, "Are you Tyler?"

Tyler and his dad were escorted to a private vaccination room. Although anxious at first, Tyler quickly warmed up as he encountered more clinic staff. Each one made him feel "welcomed and important by being upbeat, smiling and asking about things he liked," his parents report.

It didn’t take long for Tyler to feel comfortable, especially after meeting Michele Jordan, a nurse working in the vaccination unit. "Tyler, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all morning," Jordan said when they met. She and Tyler became instant friends.

Positive vaccination experience makes big difference for young man with Down syndrome | News Center

The conversation was so effortless, Kevin White said, that his son was a "whole different person than he usually is when we go to doctor appointments."

The staff at Mayo Clinic were "so genuine and truly wanted the experience to be welcoming and relaxing for Tyler," Kevin says, and they "spoke to Tyler as if they had known him for years."

The difference that made was palpable.

Positive vaccination experience makes big difference for young man with Down syndrome | News Center

“So many people talk just to parents and never ask little questions to the patient with special needs to learn more about them and make them feel comfortable," Kevin says. "The little things make a huge difference. That's why Mayo is Mayo."

Tyler's vaccination appointment was an uplifting, meaningful and transformative event for the entire family. "You have no idea what this means," Kevin says.

"The experience showed that in the right environment, with small attempts to increase the flow, reduce waiting and getting to know the patient with simple questions, Tyler's behavior is not only appropriate, it is delightful," Kevin says. "After the vaccine, Tyler was in such a great mood."

All according to plan

Windell Smith, operations administrator for COVID-19 Vaccination Center, says the team was prepared and happy to make things work for their patient. "Several team members were involved and on the lookout for Tyler’s arrival," Smith says. "Our plan for his vaccination was executed to perfection."

After the appointment, Kevin says he took Tyler shopping for a birthday cake for his mother, and the two of them had a great afternoon.

And there was more icing.

"If that wasn’t enough, Windell called mom before the second vaccine to set up a special accommodation, knowing hundreds of patients were coming in the same day," Kevin says. "Tyler has immune deficiency and heart problems, so it was important for him to get both vaccines."

Kevin can't say enough about the team going the extra mile and putting a vulnerable patient at ease to administer an important vaccine. It's a testament to compassion, focusing on the needs of the patient first, and living the deep-rooted values of Mayo Clinic, even in a pandemic.


For the safety of our patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a non-patient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Tags: Community, Compassion, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccination, Down syndrome, Tyler White

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