After months of hoping to get COVID-19 immunization and then weeks of fighting the disease when it never came, Air Force veteran Diane Drews was breathing several times in an Ohio hospital when the phone rang. It was a health worker who was calling to make his first appointment for coronavirus surgery.
Drews’s daughter, Laura Brown, was shocked by the January phone call, but did not turn on the phone or even explain that her 75-year-old mother was at the point of death. It just didn’t make sense, he said.
“But my sister and I were upset that it was too late,” Brown said. “It seemed like a final insult.”
More than 247,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States since vaccines became available in mid-December. Officials have warned that providing enough vaccines to provide herd immunity would take months. And because the initial supply of vaccines was so limited that the virus spread throughout the country during the winter, it was a sad fact that some who became infected with COVID-19 would die before being vaccinated.
Surveys show that the majority of the US population is vaccinated, and it is impossible to say exactly how many of the dead even wanted to be vaccinated. But Brown said his mother wanted one – desperate. Other families have similar, shocking stories that loved ones became infected after months of being safe and then dying before they could get a dose.
Charlotte Crawford, who worked for 40 years at the Parkland Hospital Microbiology Laboratory in Dallas, was fully vaccinated in January after receiving two doses of the Moderna vaccine because of her work. But then she “suffered” by watching her husband’s two grown children contract COVID-19 die before they could be shot.
His widow says 65-year-old Henry Royce Crawford was prescribed the vaccine. Their children, Royce Crawford, 33, and Natalia Crawford, 38, also wanted the shot but could not find it when they fell ill and died.
The days after their deaths in late February and early March seem like a mess to Crawford. He is still trying to find out what happened when he begs anyone who hears to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“All I know is that I had three funerals in three weeks,” said Crawford, Forney, Texas.
While more than 96 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 53 million have been fully vaccinated, or about 16% of the nation’s population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now with more widely available doses, shots are moving at an accelerated pace. More than a dozen states have opened vaccine eligibility for all adults amid rising viral rates.
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The wait for the second shot was too long for Richard Rasmussen of Las Vegas, said daughter Julie Uli Rasmussen.
Richard Rasmussen, 73, strongly believed in wearing face masks to protect himself, and in early January he administered his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “She was very excited to get the vaccine,” he said.
Rasmussen says Rasmussen tested positive for the virus 10 days later and died on February 19 before receiving a second dose. His recent fall was astonishing for his speed, he said.
“And now I’m alone,” Rasmussen said. Mail interview. “She was my best friend. We texted every day, all day. I have no sisters or brothers. No spouse / friend. He was alone. “I navigate the legal system alone and clean his house.”
On the same day that Rasmussen died, Oklahoma-based dad Drew Lowe Salence stood in the icy, snow-covered parking lot of a vaccine clinic mourning the loss of his mother, 65-year-old Catherine Douglas, and stepfather Asa Bartlett Douglas. 58 on COVID-19, 16 days before they could get shot.
“I and I saw the vaccine as a one-sided life-changing factor that would allow us to see each other in person again. That was our goal. “We all wanted to get vaccines so we could get back together so my mother could play with my daughter again so we could visit my grandmother’s nursing home, not just through the windows,” Salens said in an interview.
On that cold February day, when some doses had to be saved because bad weather prevented others from making appointments, a worker who called Salens to the clinic was vaccinated. Salens said he was overcome by tears and “surrealist disbelief” as he entered.
“My mind was on, ‘If only my parents could spend an extra two months, they would be here to get vaccines, too.’ They would be alive. “They would be here with me,” he said.