MUM-OF-FOUR Donna Yates was adamant she did not want her 14-year-old son Hayden to have the Covid vaccine, believing it could be dangerous for his health long-term.
After Hayden, 14, demanded her opinion, she gave the go-ahead. He told her that he wanted the one-dose vaccine to protect his family and friends.
Donna, 42, says: “I’m very aware the effects of Covid are mild for most children. Hayden was not allowed to have the vaccine after the Government declared it safe.
“I worried about the effect it might have on his body in later life. He is still developing. He talks about having a family, so if there is a risk it could affect his fertility, I’d hate for him to have that choice taken away.
“They wouldn’t normally put out a vaccine this quickly. It is obviously concerning.”
Donna, a Lichfield resident, was hospitalized after contracting Covid in April 2020. She had secondary pneumonia and was extremely unwell.
“I was deathly ill,” She says. “I was bedridden on and off for six weeks.
“I’d never felt that poorly in all my life. Hayden was shocked at how sick I was. Hayden said that he would have the jab if it was allowed to him. He didn’t want to get ill himself and didn’t want any of us to get sick again.
“That said, once the jab was approved, I wanted him to wait.
“I wasn’t happy for him to go ahead but he was quite sure he wanted it and said it would make him safe.”
Donna was able to catch Covid even though she had received two doses from AstraZeneca.
She recalls: “I was really desperate for my own jabs, I couldn’t wait to get it. However, both jabs made it very difficult for me to feel well.
“After the first dose I was unwell for a week and a half. I experienced hot and cold sensations, nausea, and severe headaches. It was almost like having the flu. My limbs hurt. It was necessary, but I knew it. I told myself I’d rather go through that than get Covid again.
“The second dose was even worse. I was so ill I struggled to take care of my kids.”
Donna was able to catch Covid again in August, and she vowed that her children would not be able to have the jab.
“After all I’d been through, I got it again anyway,” She says. “I regretted having my own jab and I didn’t want that for my kids.
“For me, as well as all the worries about the long-term health implications, I felt it simply didn’t work. If he could catch Covid later, what was the point of having a jab?
“I told Hayden he wouldn’t be having the jab, but he talked me round. He reminded me how poorly I’d been the first time round and said if I hadn’t had the jab, I might have been worse.
“Perhaps I would have been admitted to hospital. Of course, I knew he was right.”
After a decision of the chief medical officials, the government confirmed that Covid-19 vaccinations will now be available for all UK children 12-15 years old.
The decision was taken amid concerns that a winter surge in cases could see hospitalisations spike as the weather gets colder.
Professor Chris Whitty recommended the move and former vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed children who are deemed “competent” enough will even be able to overrule their parents’ wishes to get vaccinated should they wish to do so — after consultation with a medical professional.
“I was fiercely opposed to the move and instantly decided that it was a big no,” Donna, who runs an escape room venue, explains.
“I became convinced not enough research had gone into the vaccine. I was shocked when Hayden said he’s made up his mind to have the jab.
“I told him I was his mum and still made decisions around his health.”
After he impressed Donna with the amount of research he’d done on vaccines, Hayden was able to persuade Donna to reconsider.
She says: “Instead of storming out in a teenage temper tantrum, Hayden sat down and said he wanted his say.
“He explained how worried he’d been about my health and that he’d been online and done his own research. He’d read all the NHS and Government vaccine updates.
“He was incredibly knowledgeable and had been clearly paying attention to the news and listening to debates.”
Donna also expressed her fears and pointed out research that showed a slight risk of myocarditis. This is a condition that causes inflammation and heart disease and is more common in boys.
The UK rate is only six per million, and Hayden wanted to continue.
“He very sensibly told me the risk was small and he wants to do his bit to help protect our elderly family members and keep himself healthy.
“I don’t think he would have had it against my wishes, but I’m not sure he was going to take no for an answer either.
“He told me he didn’t want to catch Covid and get sick and that the risks of the jab were less to him. I was overwhelmed by his passion for research and dedication as a mom. I knew I had got to listen to him. His older brothers and he will get the jab.
“He’s even changed my mind about the jab.
“I know tens of thousands of families are split over this vaccination debate and many parents are horrified that their teenagers may have the jab against their wishes.
“As a parent, I realised a time comes when you have to stop dictating and start listening.
“I can’t believe a 14-year-old changed my mind, but I’m proud he did.
“Like him, I’m now a big advocate for the vaccine.”
Hayden researched the matter after his mum was so badly ill with Covid.
He said: “When I saw mum sick it was very scary and worrying. I became more determined to learn and educate myself during the pandemic.
“This is my world too and it’s been turned upside-down. This is my chance help and get things back on track.
“I’m about to start college and I don’t want to go back to home-learning. I miss my friends.
“Schools need to stay open. I’ve been following the progress and looking into the research closely.
“I can understand why Mum didn’t want me to have the jab initially.
“Like any parent, she wants to protect her kids but I’m glad she listened to me and as a teenager I get to have a say about my own health and body.
“All of my friends want the vaccine. We’ll be safer, and we can get our lives back. Each person should be able make their own decision.
“These are our bodies — and it’s our future.”