A 14-year-old girl spent 5 days on oxygen at a Missouri hospital, illustrating the growing problem of children not being vaccinated

Marionna Baker in a room at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

By Amir Vera and Gary Tuchman, CNN

(CNN) -- Angel Baker's 14-year-old daughter, Marionna, had to be put on oxygen for five days after contracting Covid-19.

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.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children 12 and older get vaccinated, according to the CDC website. Despite this, doctors and nurses at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital told CNN they're seeing more severe cases of Covid-19 in children and fear things will only get worse as school starts and the winter months around the corner.

Missouri currently has more than 716,000 cases of Covid statewide and more than 10,000 deaths, according to CNN's Covid Tracker. The state currently has more than 3,000 cases in those between 0 and 9 years old, and more than 13,000 in those 10 to 19, according to the state department of health and senior services.

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.

What makes that even worse, he said, is that children will stay sick with Covid-19 for a very long time with some even developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) -- a condition that affects the heart, lungs kidney and brain as well as other organs.

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.

The-CNN-Wire
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