Father and son encourage vaccination after teen battles COVID-19 in hospital

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 3:15 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 8:03 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A South Carolina father and son are sharing their COVID-19 experience in hopes of encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

Anthony Rainey and his 17-year-old son Christian Davila said they didn’t think COVID-19 was serious and said they often compared it to the flu. They said that changed when Christian was diagnosed with the virus on August 16.

“To walk into the hospital and see your son on the ventilator. Nothing you can do about it. It floors you,” Rainey said.

Anthony said Christian started to go down-hill after a couple of days, prompting them to take him to an area hospital in their hometown of Little River. Christian went home but returned to the hospital only to be moved to another area hospital due to lack of room.

Anthony said doctors realized Christian’s condition was worse than they originally thought. After a few days, he was intubated and transferred to the pediatric ICU at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital where he has been the last 3 weeks.

Christian said his symptoms have ranged from not being able to walk well, to 105 degree fevers. He said breathing didn’t become hard until after about a week.

“It was actually just fevers, was the worst part. I had fevers of 105, 103 nonstop, like I couldn’t get my temperature under 101,” Christian explained.

Anthony said he, Christian, and Christian’s twin brother have since been vaccinated against COVID-19. Christian’s mother will receive her shot in the next few days.

Christian said his situation has encouraged his friends to get vaccinated.

“When I went to the hospital, a lot of my friends realized, ‘oh, this is not a joke. This is serious.’ It really encouraged a lot of people that I know to get vaccinated,” Christian said.

Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a pediatric ICU physician at MUSC said on Thursday, there were 36 kids hospitalized with COVID-19 in South Carolina’s four Children’s Hospitals. She said of those, 16 are in the ICU and 6 are on the ventilator.

Doctor Mack said some children stay in the hospital for weeks and even months with the virus.

“Here at Shawn Jenkins, we have not had a single child with COVID admitted to the hospital who is vaccinated,” the doctor said.

Christian said he is feeling much better. He is doing physical therapy and working on getting his lungs strong again. The father and son hope their story will encourage others to get the shot.

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