GREENVILLE, S.C. (courtesy furman.edu and greenvilleonline.com) — As the COVID vaccine begins rolling out across the United States, Cathy Stevens, director of the White-Riley-Peterson Afterschool Policy Fellowship at The Riley Institute, implores Americans to consider getting the vaccine for the sake of people with compromised immune systems, like her daughter, Halle, 10.
“As many have said, for this vaccine to be successful (and to lower the incidence of the virus in the community), a significant portion of the population will need to be vaccinated,” Stevens wrote in a Greenville News op-ed. The following is an excerpt from the Greenville News op-ed:
If you are part of the vaccine-hesitant crowd, I write to appeal to you: Getting a vaccine in the coming months may be the most servant-led, kind-hearted, people-loving thing any of us can do for one another.
Let me tell you why. My daughter, Halle, is 10 years old, and has a genetic disease so rare that no one else in the world is known to have the same genetic change. She is incredibly immune-compromised, and simple colds are difficult for her. She often lands in the hospital with respiratory illnesses because she has weak muscle tone and struggles to cough.
Yet, her life is beautiful. Every life on this earth is worthy of protecting, and hers is no different. She is one of the sweetest, most precious people, even if she is unable to communicate in “typical” ways. Her humanity is just as real as yours or mine.
Yet, she is immune-compromised and, according to many wise medical minds, would very likely not survive COVID-19. That’s right: We have been told that our daughter would likely die if she contracted the virus. Just imagine that for a moment.
And there are others in our community just like her.
To protect Halle, our family has gone into a very strict lockdown: working from home, schooling from home, and limiting activities for our two typical boys (who miss their schools and friends so much). We made a decision as a family to be as careful as possible, and thankfully we have been able to do so. Yet, the only way we will be able to move back out into the world is with a vaccine and because others in our community have made a concerted effort to protect the vulnerable.
I beg of you: Even if you are a strong 25-year-old; even if you have already had the virus and had very few symptoms; even if you are not afraid of getting COVID-19; even if you don’t have any elderly family members nearby – for the love of Halle and all of our other vulnerable community members, please get a vaccine when it becomes available.
America has a reputation of coming together in times of crisis, and I believe that our collective embracing of science and this vaccine will be one of those acts of coming together to support each other and get beyond this difficult era in our history.
Talk to your doctors. Read what the CDC says. Watch our leaders get their shots. We have never been a country to resist science. In fact, science has propelled us forward through time with the development of electricity, the Industrial Revolution, antibiotics, and now vaccines.
When any of us hesitates to get vaccinated, we put the lives of more vulnerable others in the balance.
Thank you for considering Halle when you make your vaccine decision.
Cathy Stevens, a mother of three, lives in Greenville with her family. She works at Furman University.