The Covid-19 vaccines for young people and teenagers have been authorized for emergency use since last year, but many of them decide not to get the shot for all the wrong reasons. In most of the cases, teenagers ignore the science behind the vaccines and they usually rely on the fake news shared online and to the fact that young people get over Covid-19 way easier compared to adults and elderly people.
Although health officials and health experts are doing everything in their power to convince young folks to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the vaccination process in this age group goes slower than initially expected meaning those unvaccinated are still exposed to greater risk of developing severe condition, hospitalization and death if they get infected with the virus.
So was the case with the 17-year-old Kennedy Stonum, a high school student from California, who decided to not get the Covid-19 vaccine and protect herself from the virus. Her parents and her grandmother did everything to convince her to get the shot since the vaccines for her age group were authorized for emergency use, but she never considered to get vaccinated.
It was late January when Kennedy went to the emergency room because she didn’t feel well. She tested positive on Covid-19 and was hospitalized as her body was in distress. According to her grandmother, 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.
In the upcoming days, the rare immune system disease attacked her body, organs and her immune system leading to develop several infections in a matter of days. In the early morning hours on February 11, her father Lee received a call from the hospital no parent would ever like to get.
“Ah, the call we got at 4 a.m. was just that we needed to come right now,” said Lee. “They did a CT scan early in the morning on the 11th and identified a major brain bleed, and told us she wouldn’t survive that, and we had to take her off life support on the 11th shortly after 8 a.m. She passed basically immediately after she was taken off,” he said.
Her family blames the fake news about the vaccines spread across the social platforms like Youtube and TikTok. Her father explained that Kennedy relied on the information she was seeing there making her concerned about the long-term of the Covid-19 vaccines and that’s the only reason why she decided not to get the shot.
Kennedy was a healthy teenager with no underlying health conditions and thought she would have a mild case if she caught the virus. Although numerous studies have shown that vaccines work and are safe to use, Kennedy wasn’t about to change her mind just like most of her friends who are also unvaccinated, her grandmother explained.
“Myself and my wife and (her) grandmother pleaded, pleaded with her,” Lee said. “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.”
“I pleaded with her, actually. Probably not the right tone to take, but what do you do?” grandmother Marilyn said. “And she would say politely, I’ll think about it. But her circle of friends, by and large, were not vaccinated.”
Now, the Stonum family is urging others to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Kennedy’s grandmother Marilyn told Ideastream Public Media, “I just want to say – hey, kids, don’t do this to your grandparents.”