VENTURA, California – The COVID-19 vaccines provide a layer of protection for many children fighting cancer.
Sixteen-year-old Jacob Gibson has come a long way since he was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago.
“Now I’m on maintenance and have chemo once a month,” Gibson said. “I will be done with chemo in November.”
Fighting cancer is challenging, but doing it during a pandemic puts extra stress.
“You know we didn’t know what it would mean for kids with cancer, so that was more stressful,” said Heather Gibson, Jacob’s mother.
That concern was very real for Jacob who got COVID a year ago.
“I got pretty sick,” Gibson said. “I lost all sense of smell and taste and it was like I had a cold, but more intense.”
Many families with children undergoing cancer are asking the community to help protect them by getting vaccinated.
“I think it (the COVID-19 vaccine) is definitely more comforting to us by allowing us to slowly get back out and get a little normal,” said Heather Gibson.
The topic is very emotional for some. Elda Gemima Perez Juarez has a 6-year-old daughter who has been living with leukemia since she was just three.
“My daughter was extremely sick and she would tell me she really wanted it all over and eventually she started to feel better, and she’s cancer free now, but it’s really important for all of us to get vaccinated right now,” Juarez said, fighting back tears.
The Ventura Teenage Pediatric Diagnostic Center is doing what they can to protect themselves.
“My son Julio is a cancer patient and he was vaccinated with Pfizer on Saturday and as of today is doing very well,” said Trini Hernandez, Julio’s mother.
Sixteen-year-old Julio received his vaccine during chemotherapy. Nearly two-thirds of people in Ventura County have received at least one vaccination, but for the kids fighting other diseases, that’s not enough.
“People who get vaccinated can make us feel safer and more comfortable because we don’t have to worry about getting something that could potentially be fatal to us,” said Jacob Gibson.