COVID-19 has claimed the life of a ten-year-old girl in Virginia, days after exhibiting symptoms.
Now Nicole Sperry, the mother, is pleading with anti-vaxxers to get vaccinated.
"Get a vaccine if you can, if you are medically able to get a vaccine," she urged viewers in a news interview.
On Wednesday, September 22, Teresa Sperry, a student at Hillpoint Elementary in Suffolk, developed a headache that lasted through the weekend.
The child's father, Jeff Sperry, told WAVY-TV:
"On Sunday, she started getting sick, and she was coughing up so much that she started throwing up … I was trying to do chest compressions … I went in the room and she wasn't breathing while I was on the phone."
By Monday, Teresa's condition did not improve while at Children's Hospital for the King's Daughters.
At 4:46 p.m., Teresa was pronounced dead, less than five days since she first showed signs of illness.
"When she was in the ICU room, they lost the heartbeat, couldn't find a pulse," recalled the child's mother.
You can watch a news report, here.
Suffolk fifth grader died from COVID-19, family says youtu.be
Nicole told viewers in the news interview:
"Wear a mask, wear it properly. Take it seriously. Have care and compassion for other people like we have had for the past year and a half."
"And now, our compassion has caused us to lose our daughter."
"It's not fair. More people should have been able to get to know her and become a better person because of her."
It is unclear where Teresa contracted the viral pathogen from, and doctors are awaiting contact tracing results.
Both parents had been vaccinated but Teresa was not yet eligible for a vaccination against COVID-19.
Nicole said she felt the urge to get her message across when parents in the community continued underestimating the severity of the pandemic.
"At the school board meeting, while I was sitting next to my dead daughter, there was a Chesapeake School Board meeting and people were saying 'This does not affect healthy people, This does not kill healthy people. It is not going to take out children. It's over.'"
"Well, I am here to tell you it is not over. If it were over my daughter would still be alive."
She shared what her late daughter has meant to her.
"When I think of her, I think of someone who was caring. She had a heart for everybody."
"Like if she saw somebody sad, or if she saw someone who needed a friend, she was there."
John B. Gordon III, the Suffolk schools superintendent, offered his condolences, saying:
"We have empathy for the Sperry family. We are so sorry it happened. No parent wants to outlive their children, especially when you lose someone at such a young age."
The Suffolk Public School's Twitter account released the following statement:
"Suffolk Public Schools is heartbroken due to the tragic loss of one of our students, Teresa Sperry."
"It is our intention to support the family, the school, and our entire school communinity during this very difficult time. We will continue to follow our mitigation strategies of wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing."
"The school division also encourages vaccinations of both staff and students (if they are eligible). "
"Suffolk Public Schools will continue to follow the guidance from the Center for Disease Control with support from the Western Tidewater Health District. "
Health officials are hoping the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for children ages 5-11 by the fall.