Fort Myers mom’s warning: Immunocompromised kids more at risk during pandemic

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Samantha Jennings and her daughter Ariya (Photo courtesy of Samantha Jennings)

You’ve seen the videos of people crowding onto beaches and into bars during the coronavirus pandemic. Those actions could mean the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable children.

A Southwest Florida mother has a warning she hopes everyone will listen to.

Samantha Jennings knows what it’s like to live through a medical crisis.

“We lived for 20 months the quarantined lifestyle,” she said.

That quarantine had nothing to do with coronavirus, but because her daughter, Ariya, had leukemia.

“The last eight months of my daughter’s journey, we were in a hospital room of just a hundred square feet. We had to wash our hands every single time we entered her room,” she said.

“Outsiders had to wear a mask.”

The battle for Ariya ended when she was just 27 months old, but Jennings said there are other children still battling, and now, they face a new danger.

“This virus that’s kind of going out of control at this point is very scary for these parents that have children who are battling these big battles – because it’s not only now the cancer that they’re worrying about, it’s this virus that could potentially really harm their child.”

The coronavirus could hurt children with cancer because they’re at a higher risk of developing serious complications. Some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, weaken the immune system and increase risk of infection.

“The immunocompromised population may seem small to most, especially if it’s not near and dear to your own heart, but we’re talking about family members. We’re talking about children,” said Jennings, of Fort Myers.

The actions you take right now could last a lifetime.

“The simple thing of staying at home could save an immunocompromised child’s life.”

Even people who don’t fit into the vulnerable category can end up in the hospital.

Numbers show up to 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 to 44 with COVID-19 require hospitalization. It jumps to 28 percent for adults between the ages of 45 and 54.

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