Caregivers for frail Tennessee kids are given vaccination precedence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The seven-year-old carpenter Adoo was nicknamed “Tiny but Mighty” in a short time.

He had his first surgery at one week and spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit. He has gone through more than a dozen procedures to safely drain the excess fluid from his brain and routinely greets nurses with hugs and handshakes.

“He treats everything with a grace that I don’t know I can ever handle,” said Leah Williamson, Carpenter’s mother, of Memphis.

Carpenter’s health status makes him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, placing him in a population where states are finding it difficult to prioritize as the demand for vaccines is insufficient. Tennessee, along with a handful of states, put the families of medically frail children like Carpenter on vaccine priorities last month. State officials pushed them over critical infrastructure workers, grocery store clerks and inmates, and ended up in the phase that follows teachers and childcare workers.

Williamson has been encouraged but has not yet received any responses as to when it will be her turn.

With the US death toll rising to nearly half a million people, the threat remains high for people with chronic illnesses, especially those under the age of 16 who are not yet cleared for the shooting. Williamson hopes this will add urgency to the state of Tennessee’s readiness to give her a vaccine.

All she knows is that this day cannot come soon enough.

Before the pandemic, the flu season terrified her. If Carpenter, who suffers from hydrocephalus and chronic lung disease, caught COVID-19, the damage could be severe.

The upcoming vaccine priority group in Tennessee includes people living with or caring for children under the age of 16 who have any number of medical conditions, from those receiving chemotherapy to children who use wheelchairs due to high risk conditions.

They may have to wait more than a month and a half to be eligible. This emerges from Lisa Piercey’s most recent conservative timeline. But the national vaccine landscape is constantly changing. President Joe Biden said there will be enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July.

Barbara Saunders, a doctor who heads the child development division of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said medically frail children find it difficult enough to stay healthy without the risk of a pandemic. She said anything that keeps her as healthy as possible, including vaccinating the people around her, is crucial.

“We know that children with medical complexities and medically weak patients are at a much higher risk of developing COVID-19 than their normally developing peers,” Saunders said. “They are also at a higher risk of having a serious illness and needing hospitalization, by comparison.” to other children. “

Other states that extend eligibility to caregivers for medically frail children include California, Oregon, Illinois, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. Few make it as clear as Tennessee that everyone in the household is a priority. However, other states are approaching these carers more quickly, with some already taking recordings.

Some states have classified these family members as home health care providers or caregivers, making them eligible. Many states do not address them.

Late last month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called vaccine prioritization “bowel pain” when asked why parents of immunocompromised children hadn’t queued there.

“It’s not ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” the Republican said at a press conference. “It’s, ‘Yes, if we do, someone else will be pushed back or another group will be pushed back.'”

Although research on whether the vaccine can prevent someone from spreading the virus is not yet exhaustive, early indications are positive. AstraZeneca, whose COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available in the US, has found evidence that its shots can reduce virus transmission. A recent study in Israel shared similar early findings about Pfizer’s vaccine.

From Williamson’s point of view, the vaccine would add to what she’s already doing. She limits international travel and works from home for a group that supports families of children with special health needs, chronic illnesses or disabilities. Shoes are off before entering the house, no exception. She leaves packages in the back yard for a day or two, wiping groceries.

“It’s like decon (pollution) when I come home, spray myself on hand sanitizer – ‘Nobody touches mom! ‘- because you just don’t know, “said Williamson. “We still have to do things like go to follow-ups and see a doctor.”

Once, after a visit to the doctor’s office, she was told that someone had tested positive there. She wore masks around the children for 10 days and tried to stay in a room and limit their interactions.

There is no question of sending one of her four children – two teenagers, one of whom has severe hearing loss and who speaks in sign language, and Carpenter’s twin sister – back to personal school as they could bring back what they could bring back.

Williamson said she was aware of the role the breed played in the pandemic as fewer people of color were vaccinated. But she says her son’s care is too important to waver.

“We’re a black family so I’m asked, ‘Are you really going to get the vaccine?’ “Yeah, I’m really going to get the vaccine,” said Williamson. “It’s just that, trust the medicine.”

Comments are closed.