Euless Teen Encourages Peers to Get Vaccinated

The 14-year-old suffers daily from the long-term effects of her initial COVID-19 infection a year ago

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Since the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved for teens, as of May 24, 174,697 Texans between the ages of 12 and 15 have gotten their first shot.

Public health officials are encouraged by the quick pace, but there are still many parents hesitant about vaccinating their children.

That's why a North Texas teen is speaking out about how COVID-19 changed her life.

When we met 13-year-old Savannah Pressley of Euless last August, it had been three months since she had beat COVID-19.

At the time, she still struggled every day through extreme fatigue, but now, more than a year since her initial illness, she still deals with lingering effects.

She has chronic pain, fatigue, is unable to sleep, has lost 26 pounds and suffers from bouts of anxiety.

"I was perfectly healthy before this," said Pressley. "I don't want other kids in this situation."

She wasn't able to return to in-person classes this past year because of the symptoms that have plagued thousands of COVID-19 "long haulers."

These symptoms are part of what's called “Long COVID Syndrome,” which is clinically known as post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC).

Often referred to as “Long COVID”, these symptoms, which can include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog”, sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, and depression can persist for months and can range from mild to incapacitating.

While research continues into the long-term effects of COVID in kids, the pace to vaccinate children 12 and up quickens.

Texas pediatricians' offices are now receiving smaller batches of the vaccine that can be stored in regular refrigeration.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also plans to launch a public awareness campaign for parents this summer.

"We are very hopeful that any child 12 and up that wants the vaccine for COVID will be able to before the start of school. Supplies of vaccine are plentiful, so they should be able to get vaccinated over the next month or two," said Texas Pediatric Society President Dr. Seth Kaplan.

The CDC is investigating reports of heart problems in a very small number of teens who recently got the vaccine, but public health experts say the potentially rare side effect should pale in comparison with the potential risks of a COVID-19 infection

Pressley is on a medical treatment plan that she hopes will make her well enough to go back to school in the fall.

"I lost a year of my life to this. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," said Pressley.

At NIH, efforts have been underway for some time to identify the causes of Long COVID

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