PLATTSBURGH — Emily Laundry is 16 years old, but is already set to receive her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week.
“The second my daughter was able to get vaccinated, she did,” her mom, Sara, said.
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens up to all New Yorkers age 16 or older today, but Emily already received her first dose due to a qualifying condition.
She has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that falls under the category of “developmental disability.” Initially, only adults with certain medical conditions were eligible for the vaccine, but the age minimum was lowered to 16 last month.
For the Laundrys, who live in Plattsburgh, COVID-19 is personal. Sara’s mother, Dawn Peryea, died following a two-week battle with the virus in April 2020, the fourth confirmed death among Clinton County residents, the Press-Republican reported then.
“I’ve already lost one family member; I don’t want to lose another,” Sara said. “I’m very proactive to all friends and family: if you can get it, get it.”
'ONE MORE TIME'
Sara has further channeled her energy into assisting with the vaccination effort, providing medical documentation and support at the state-run site on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.
“It’s been humbling to go and see people crying getting their first vaccine, hearing that they can’t wait to hug family members. Every day I leave wishing my mom was still here … and I could maybe hug her one more time.”
Sara received the vaccine as soon as she was eligible and believes her mom would be proud of her and Emily. She thinks that, as someone who worked in health care for 20 years, Peryea would have been one of the first to get the vaccine.
Sara has seen people from throughout the state come through the clinic.
“As long as people are getting vaccinated, I don’t care where they come from.”
'THIS IS REAL'
Emily, who plans to dye her hair purple in honor of her late grandmother, looks forward to being able to hang out with her friend group.
"I’m not just not ready for the pain," she admitted. "My arm hurt for three days after the first shot."
Sara’s message to those who think 16-year-olds do not need to get the vaccine is that COVID-19 does not discriminate.
“Regardless of whether you’re eight months, eight years or 80 years, it’s not a hoax. (The vaccine) is not the government trying to implant something in your arm.
"This is real."
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