This post is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All opinions are my own. This is our family’s story.
We’ve spoken a lot about the choices we’ve made as a family over the past two years. We are not a family that takes chances with our health — especially when our children are involved. We are mindful of those around us and have always vaccinated to protect those who are not able to be vaccinated themselves.
We wanted to share our family’s story in hopes that it will help you to decide what is best for your family. We will be including facts provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Services throughout this post.
The county we were living in up until last month had a high infection rate. We made a decision early on to stay at home and have anything we needed delivered. We didn’t go anywhere unless it was a park or for walks around our rural neighborhood. The kids went to school virtually and we decided to continue to send them virtually, even after the schools opened up again last year. Since Nelson and I both work from home, we were lucky enough to have that option.
Nelson’s friend passed away due to COVID complications in February. He was a healthy, 32-year-old man with a wife and small children. He believed that his faith would protect him and chose not to wear a mask. Nelson wishes that he could go back in time and try to convince him to put one on, but unfortunately, it’s too late for him.
His friend’s death shook us. He was the first person we knew that passed away due to COVID. He was otherwise healthy. We vowed to do everything possible to protect ourselves, especially for our children’s sake.
Nelson and I made our vaccination appointments in April, as soon as our age group was eligible. We both had the same reaction — a sore arm and we felt a little tired. We knew at that point that if we were to get COVID, the side effects would not be as severe and that gave us a feeling of extreme relief.
Fact: Everyone in the United States age 5 or older is now eligible to get vaccinated. More than 200 million people have safely received COVID-19 vaccines under the most rigorous safety monitoring in U.S. history.
In May, when our two oldest daughters (ages 12 and 15) were eligible, we discussed the vaccination option with them. They were both ready. They had stayed home for over a year and missed out on a number of important events like 8th-grade prom and 5th-grade farewell. They were ready and willing to do whatever they could to protect themselves and others. They were excited for the possibility of getting back to somewhat of a normal childhood.
Fact: Vaccines can help protect your child from getting COVID and keep your child from getting seriously sick even if they do get it. COVID vaccines provide an opportunity to return to a more normal lifestyle. Getting vaccinated is the best way to control the pandemic and make it safer for everyone to gather together at schools, weddings, sports events, and during travel.
Both of our older girls just had a sore arm — no other side effects.
As our family was almost completely vaccinated, we went on our first road trip at the end of May. We continued to wear masks indoors and outdoors if we weren’t able to social distance. It was nice to see smiles on our kids’ faces again but our youngest was anxious for her turn to be vaccinated.
At the end of July, for the first time in 16 months, I let my guard down and got too close to someone on our property. I read on social media that their family tested positive for COVID just a few days later. When I started to feel sick not long after, I knew in my gut that it was a breakthrough case of COVID. I immediately locked myself in a room and made an appointment for a test.
We had a trip planned, the day I started to feel sick, for the inspection of a home we were planning on buying and I decided to stay home while the rest of my family went. I was home alone, with a fever, chills, nausea, dizziness, and extreme exhaustion for three days. I lost my taste and smell on day three and that officially confirmed what I already suspected.
I had heard of breakthrough cases, but never imagined I would be at risk since we were SO careful. It only takes one lapse of judgment and I’m proof of that.
When my family got home from the trip, we all wore masks and I continued to stay in my room. My COVID test was positive and thankfully Nelson and the girls all tested negative. We know that our quick response helped to keep them safe.
Fact: More than 7 million American children have gotten COVID-19. Since August, hospitalization rates for children with COVID have reached record highs. Even though it’s rare for kids to get severely ill from COVID, it can happen – and it’s even more likely they could spread the virus to other people who are at greater risk.
I had heard people say that COVID feels like a bad cold when you are vaccinated. But it was unlike any cold I ever had. The fevers were brutal. I was sick for over two weeks and still have side effects that my doctor can’t explain. I can say with 100% certainty that if I wasn’t vaccinated, I would have had to go to the hospital. So to answer the question I get asked the most, I don’t regret getting vaccinated. I’m glad that I made that decision and am grateful to have had the opportunity because I’m still here to tell my story.
Fact: COVID vaccines prevent more than 9 out of 10 hospitalizations and deaths from COVID. Children are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID if they live in a state with low vaccination rates compared to states with high vaccination rates.
At the end of August, our two youngest went back to in-person school. It took us a couple of weeks and a conversation with the principal, to feel comfortable with them going back, especially since our youngest, 8 at the time, wasn’t eligible for the vaccine yet. The principal assured me that they were doing everything possible to keep the kids safe. The statewide mask mandate did make us feel better and helped to keep them safe.
Last month, my youngest was finally eligible for a COVID vaccine. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any 9-year-old that excited to get vaccinated. She finally felt that sense of relief that we had for ourselves and our two oldest daughters. She had the same reaction — a sore arm. And she is proud to tell everyone that will listen that she’s finally vaccinated.
Fact: COVID vaccines are given to children under 12 in smaller doses, tailored for younger children. Adolescents ages 12 and older receive the same dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine as adults.
The decisions we made for our family were the right ones for our family. We would never tell anyone what to do with their family’s health but do encourage everyone to get their information from the right sources, before making decisions for themselves and their children.
There is a ton of misinformation out there. Before reading or watching anything online, please consider the source and what their credentials are. Talk to a doctor if you have questions about the vaccine.
Fact: If you are not vaccinated – no matter your age – you are at risk of getting sick, and yes, even dying. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,000 children have died from COVID.
Find vaccines near you at vaccines.gov.
If you have any questions about our story, I’m more than happy to answer them in the comments below. Please keep the conversation respectful and I promise to do the same. #WeCanDoThis