Baker told CNN Marionna’s symptoms began July 26 with complaints of headaches and feeling tired. Things kicked into high gear on August 2 when she said she couldn’t breathe. But after a trip to urgent care and being prescribed medication, Baker said her daughter could not breathe at all the next day.
She took Marionna to an emergency room, where a doctor told her she was being taken to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri — about a 2½-hour drive from where Baker and her daughter live in southern Missouri. Baker said she followed her daughter in an ambulance because she was not allowed to ride with them due to Covid protocols.
“I was just praying that she knows I’m behind her and she’ll get here safe,” Baker said.
While she is now getting better, Baker said she regrets letting Marionna decide for herself not to get vaccinated and warns other parents to get their eligible children vaccinated.
“Get a vaccine so you won’t have to be in a hospital bed (and) can’t breathe,” Marionna told CNN through tears.
Dr. Wail Hayajneh, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the children’s hospital, said doctors have recently seen 10 to 15 kids each day with Covid-19 and none of them are vaccinated.
Hayajneh said the hospital has seen 22 cases of MIS since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I’m very sad because in pediatrics we believe in prevention, as an infectious disease person I think prevention is the core of dealing with infectious disease. Prevention is cheap, prevention is achievable, prevention in the United States is in the reach of our hands and we don’t do it,” he said.
Dr. Aline Tanios, the surgical unit medical director at the hospital, said things are definitely much worse than last year around this time when there were very few Covid-19 cases. Now, she said the hospital is full of children with respiratory problems and blood clots that are linked to Covid-19.
“It’s agonizing sometimes, especially when you see these kids spiraling down before they head to the ICU,” she said.
For Clarissa Capp, a registered nurse, she’s not only frustrated but heartbroken for children because the most crucial years of their lives are being spent in masks and learning remotely, which can contribute to mental health issues.
“It really hurts me because I wish they could live the childhood I lived and I hope future kids are able to get back to that,” she said.
For Marionna, the 14-year-old who spent five days on oxygen, she says she didn’t think it was necessary to get the vaccine. Her mother, Baker, said she didn’t push Marionna to get the vaccine because she, herself, was nervous but ultimately got the vaccine because of her underlying health conditions.
Marionna is now recuperating at home and will not be eligible for the vaccine for another 90 days, her mother said.