A 15-year-old teenager from Florida is urging those who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine after she was hospitalized for days with the virus.
In an interview with CNN, Paulina Velasquez said that she was infected with COVID-19 in July and experienced a loss of taste and smell, difficulty breathing and headaches.
She was not vaccinated against the disease.
Within a week she was sent to the hospital where she was placed on a ventilator due to low oxygen levels.
“That was the scariest moment when they told me because I didn’t know what to expect. I started asking questions,” her mother, Agnes Velasquez, told CNN.
The network also reported that she had pneumonia. She was placed in a medically induced coma by doctors and stayed on the ventilator for 11 days. The hospital later released her in mid-August.
“It is a very serious virus. This virus does not pick and choose who to infect. It could hit you as hard as it hit me. And I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through,” Paulina told CNN.
She told the outlet that she had planned to get vaccinated before getting sick.
“My message, technically is, just, if you’re eligible to get the vaccine, please do. I plan on getting vaccinated as soon as my doctor lets us know when I can,” she added.
Velasquez’s story is unfortunately not unique. The United States has continued to see a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious delta variant, particularly in states with low vaccination rates.
The state of Florida has one of the highest daily averages of new coronavirus cases behind Texas, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Doctors have also seen a rise of pediatric COVID-19 cases, amid school re-openings and in-person classes. The rise of cases in children is especially worrisome because a vaccine has not yet been authorized for minors under the age of 12.
Pfizer and Moderna have both said that they have started trials testing the COVID-19 vaccine in children under 12, though it remains unclear when the shot will become available for this age group.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. saw close to 158,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and over 164,000 the day prior.
Roughly 73 percent of Americans aged 12 years and older have received at least one shot of the vaccine, wile 62 percent are fully vaccinated.