PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been 14 months since the Sperry family lost 10-year-old Teresa to COVID-19.
“Definitely not in the Christmas mood, but still trying to push through it for the rest of the kids, for the boys, and we have a little tree that we bought for Teresa’s spot,” said her mother, Nicole Sperry.
The Suffolk elementary school student passed away one month before the FDA authorized the vaccine for children her age. “The images of her being in the ICU and the PICU are things that are going to be stuck with me forever, and it’s because of a vaccine preventable illness,” Sperry said.
On Monday she joined forces with Vaccinate Your Family to urge others to get immunized.
“We need everybody 6 months and older to get not only their flu vaccines, but their COVID vaccines, and to stay up to date on all their routine immunizations,” said Vaccinate Your Family Advocacy and Education Director Serese Marotta.
Similar to Teresa’s story, Marotta lost her healthy five-year-old son, Joseph, to the flu in 2009.
“He loved puzzles, and board games and Spider-Man and cars and trucks. He loved riding the school bus to kindergarten. Unfortunately, he was only in kindergarten for about a month and a half,” Marotta said.
It is estimated around 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to flu complications each year, and dozens die.
“If you would have asked me what’s your biggest fear when it comes to your children, flu would not have made the top,” Marotta said.
The two moms never thought it would happen to them. Now they want to make sure no other child dies from a vaccine preventable disease.
“It’s a moment of your time to help protect not only yourself but those around you,” Sperry said.
If you have questions about vaccines, which vaccines your family is advised to get, and when and where to get them, you can find answers here.