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Teen’s take on COVID-19

After struggling with lingering symptoms, he urges others to get vaccinated.

Article Author: Carolyn Tillo

Article Date:

teen riding a bike

At first, Kyle thought he had a cold. He was congested, so he went to the pediatrician and, since his COVID-19 test had come back negative, got antibiotics for a respiratory infection. But a week later, the sickness still hadn’t gone away.

Kyle, who was 12 at the time, returned to the doctor and was tested for COVID-19 again. This time, it was positive. He and his family were in shock. It was February 2021, so COVID-19 vaccines weren't yet available to children as young as Kyle, but he and his family had tried to do everything right. They followed all recommended COVID-19 precautions and wore masks whenever they went out.

His symptoms included crushing fatigue, made worse by a nonstop cough that kept him up at night. To avoid getting the rest of his family sick, Kyle mainly stayed in his room and communicated with them via FaceTime.

When his symptoms lingered for months after the initial infection, Kyle fell behind on schoolwork and missed out on some of his favorite after-school activities.

"He was in really bad shape," Kyle's dad, Jason, recalled. "He was up coughing until three in the morning for weeks on end, and not able to focus during school or muster the energy to walk around the block."

“The hardest part of having long COVID-19 was not being able to do anything for so long,” Kyle recalled. “I missed playing baseball and hanging out with my friends.”

Kyle, who still has to use a couple of inhalers to manage asthma aggravated by COVID, is now 13 and has since been vaccinated. He encourages other kids his age to get vaccinated, too, to reduce the risk of developing a serious case, like he had.

Kyle’s mom, Heather, says she plans to have her 9-year-old daughter vaccinated as well, once she is eligible, to avoid a repeat of what Kyle endured.

“Seeing your kid really, really sick and not being able to comfort or care for him the way you want to is one of the hardest things any parent can face,” Heather said. “And in this case, the isolation he had to endure while he was contagious, plus all of the unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and its long-term complications, made it even more difficult.”

Jason said some parents may not understand just how serious the effects of COVID-19 can be in kids, but he hopes his son’s story will change their perspective.

"Because Kyle was never admitted to the hospital, cases like his are not reflected in the published numbers of admissions and ICU cases. So we think the general public tends to underestimate how significant of an impact COVID-19 can have on kids and their families,” he said. “Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to be able to provide him with the best medical care available to help him get through this, but even with that, there was so much suffering and uncertainty resulting from his COVID case."

While remaining cautious as COVID-19 cases surge in Florida, Kyle and his family are optimistic about this fall. Kyle’s looking forward to being back to school, playing baseball and seeing his friends. It’s a welcomed return to a normal routine after a year unlike any other.

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine.

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