Many parents are having hard times to make their teenage children get the Covid-19 vaccine and this is probably the major issue why this age group has lower than expected vaccine rate so far. If they get infected, young people will probably recover from the virus easily, developing only mild or no symptoms at all in most of the cases, but getting vaccinated is still the best option we have to battle the Covid-19 virus.
Unlike other age groups, teenagers and young people more often rely on social media to get informed about everything and so is the case with the Covid-19 vaccines since they were rolled out more than a year ago. However, the most popular social media platforms are flooded with fake news and inaccurate information about the Covid-19 vaccines resulting with young people to refuse to get vaccinated.
The 17-year-old Kennedy Stonum, a high school student from California, was among those who relied on the news shared across social media platforms and decided to remain unvaccinated thinking that she is young and she will likely get over the virus easily if she gets infected. But she was wrong.
“I want to tell them (young people) to trust the science. I want to tell them that YouTube and TikTok aren’t research. I want to tell them that even if it’s a one in a million chance, those statistics don’t matter when it’s your child. What happened to Kennedy was exceedingly unlikely and very, very rare and none of that matters to me now,” Kennedy’s father Lee said last month encouraging young people and teenagers to get the Covid-19 shot.
Late January, Kennedy wasn’t feeling well and went to the emergency room. Since she had flu-like symptoms, she was tested for Covid-19 and her test came positive. But doctors realized that her body was in distress and decided to hospitalize her. Instead of getting better, her condition worsened in the upcoming period.
Kennedy developed what doctors believe was hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, also known as HLH, a rare immune system disease that can come on secondary to a viral infection like COVID-19, her grandmother Marilyn said. According to her father, the disease attacked her immune system and she also suffered several infections in the upcoming days.
Kennedy’s father received a call from the hospital where Kennedy was hospitalized in the early morning hours on Feb. 11, and he was asked to get there as soon as he can. He immediately headed to the hospital and spent the next few hours next to his only child until she was taken off life support and pronounced dead at 8 a.m. The father was simply broken.
“I would send her articles. I would send her studies. I would send her whatever I thought might either scare her enough about Covid to get the vaccine or allay her concerns enough about the vaccine,” said Lee.
“Myself and my wife and her grandmother pleaded, pleaded with her. I think like most teenagers, she felt indestructible. I know I did when I was that age. She didn’t know enough about the vaccine and she did know enough the virus that she would risk the virus,” Lee added.
His father added that Kennedy was afraid of the long-term effects of the vaccines as a result of numerous articles she found online. The CDC provides helpful resource on how to talk about vaccines with parents and teenagers.