After months of waiting for a COVID-19 immunization and suffering from the disease, United States Air Force veteran Diane Drewes was on her last gasps in a hospice in Ohio when the phone rang. It was a health worker, calling to schedule her first vaccination appointment.
Drewes’ daughter Laura Brown was shocked by the timing of the call in January, but did not react furiously or explain that her 75-year-old mother was on the brink of death. It just wouldn’t make sense, he says.
“But my sister and I were upset that she 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 the vaccines were released in mid-December. Authorities had warned that performing enough inoculations to achieve herd immunity would take months. With the initial lack of vaccines and the spread of the virus, the sad reality was that some people would contract the virus and die before they could get vaccinated.
Polls show that a considerable percentage of the US population is suspicious of the vaccine, so it is impossible to say exactly how many of the deceased would have wanted to be immunized. But Brown says his mother did love him – desperately.
Other families have similarly painful stories of loved ones being infected after months of caring for themselves and then dying before they can get vaccinated.
Charlotte Crawford, who has spent 40 years working in the microbiology laboratory at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, was fully immunized in January after receiving both doses of Moderna’s vaccine because of her work. But she had to suffer the agony of seeing her husband and two adult children contract COVID-19 and die before she could get vaccinated.
Henry Royce Crawford, 65, had an appointment to get vaccinated when he fell ill, his widow said. His sons, Roycie Crawford, 33; and Natalia Crawford, 38; they were also waiting for the vaccine, but had not received it when they got sick and died.
“All I know is that I had three funerals in three weeks,” said Crawford, of Forney, Texas.