Suffolk mother encourages vaccinations after losing daughter to COVID-19


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When COVID-19 vaccinations were approved for ages 5 through 11, two Suffolk parents felt a wide range of emotions.

Happy and relieved to know their youngest boy, Michael, was now eligible for the pediatric dose of the Pfizer shot — but also frustrated.

“We were excited because now we can get Michael vaccinated, but then at the same time, I was heartbroken because it came almost a month apart from Teresa’s passing,” explained Nicole Sperry.

It was just over a month ago that Nicole and Jeff Sperry’s 10-year-old girl Teresa died from COVID-19 complications.

On Tuesday, a version of the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children ages 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Tuesday for its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to approve the decision.

“Just knowing we missed out on potentially making sure that she could’ve still been here… even by a couple of weeks… it was devastating. It wasn’t ready in time to save her.”

A Virginia Department of Health official tells 10 On Your Side that close to 1,000 children in the state ages 5 to 11 were hospitalized due to COVID-19. They also shared that 11 of them had died.

This newly approved vaccination is one-third of the adult Pfizer dose (10 micrograms versus 30 micrograms). The side effects are similar to those seen in adult patients and can be treated the same.

Doctors recommend younger patients drink plenty of water before and after their vaccination. Acetaminophen has also been approved to treat some symptoms.

There is still some hesitancy surrounding child vaccinations. One concern is an extremely rare reaction to the vaccine that causes inflammation of the heart muscle, Myocarditis. CDC and its partners say they are actively monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after the COVID-19 vaccination.

Seeing the hesitancy, Teresa’s parents are encouraging parents to get their child the vaccine that Teresa wasn’t lucky enough to receive in time.

“If her story could just change a couple more hearts, right? It’s already changed quite a few,” said Teresa’s mother. “We’ve already heard across the world basically about people hearing about her story and going and getting their vaccines and everything.”

“I’ve heard from people who were potentially on the fence about getting their kid the vaccine and they said when they heard Teresa’s story — and this is someone who had actually met Teresa — when she heard that Teresa had passed, said that ‘As soon as the vaccine is ready, I’m going to get my kids the vaccine,” she said.

There are clinics being held across the commonwealth the weekend of 11/5-11/7 offering the pediatric dose. You can also register your child online for a vaccination appointment.

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