A Florida teenager who spent 11 days on a ventilator due to COVID-19 is urging others her age to receive the jab to avoid the same fate.
15-year-old Paulina Velasquez is a sophomore high school student from Coral Springs, Florida.
She intended to get the vaccine – she is eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines – but never did, Velasquez told CNN.
Velasquez ended up testing positive for COVID-19 on July 11 after losing his taste and smell and also experienced other flu-like symptoms.
Within a week, she was hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center, and her condition eventually deteriorated to the point where she needed a ventilator.
Paulina Velasquez (pictured), 15, urges other teens to get vaccinated after her battle with COVID-19
Velasquez (pictured) was hospitalized and on a ventilator for 11 days after contracting pneumonia from Covid
“It was the scariest moment when they told me because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Agnes Velasquez, Paulina’s mother.
Her daughter had a severe case of pneumonia which required critical treatment. Paulina was able to recover.
“Things could have gone wrong quickly, but she has recovered because she is a healthy young child. That I think was in favor of her healing, ”Dr. Venu Devabhaktuni told CNN.
The teenager still feels weak after her battle with the virus, but undergoes physical therapy to regain her strength.
There has been a recent upsurge in children hospitalized with COVID-19.
Nearly 20,000 minors are hospitalized each week, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
While children are generally more immune to the virus and are less likely to die or suffer from severe cases, they are not immune.
Cases in children are also increasing, with more than 250,000 minors testing positive for the virus during the week of September 2, a new record for the pandemic.
More than 250,000 minors tested positive for Covid during the week ending September 2, a new record
These hospitalizations rarely involve vaccinated children, and a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that children living in areas of the country with lower vaccination rates are more likely to be hospitalized.
Any American over the age of 12 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, although minors are the least vaccinated group in the United States, according to CDC data.
Just under 39% of Americans aged 12 to 15 and 48% of those aged 16 are fully immunized.
The only other age group with a full vaccination rate below 50 percent are Americans aged 18 to 24.
Americans aged 12 to 15 (dashed gold line) and 16 or 17 (solid gold line) are the least immunized age groups in the country
Minors typically need parental approval to get the shot, and American parents are divided over whether their children need the jab.
After her own experiences with the virus, however, Velasquez says she plans to get the vaccine when she can and has urged others her age to do so.
“My message, technically, is this: if you are eligible to receive the vaccine, please do so,” she said.
“I plan to get the vaccine as soon as my doctor tells us when I can.”
She later added: “It is a very serious virus. This virus does not choose who to infect.
“It might hit you as hard as I do.” And I want no one to go through what I’ve been through.