PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The COVID-19 vaccine was extra special Thursday for a 6-year-old Chicago girl who was one of the first to contract a mysterious inflammation syndrome related to the virus.
Amelia Ateca has probably spent more time in the hospital than most children her age — and she said her first stay was really difficult. WGN News first met Ateca in May 2020 while she walked out of a hospital with a sign that said “I beat COVID.”
Before that, she spent seven days in critical condition on a ventilator after being diagnosed with Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C.) The condition is COVID-19-related and attacks major organs like the heart, lungs and brain.
“After what happened with Amelia and MIS-C, we’ve been very careful,” mother Alicia Lopez-Ateca said.
Her mother vowed as soon as a vaccine became available for children, she would be the first in line. After becoming one of the first children to being diagnosed with MIS-C, Ateca became one of the first young children in the nation to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
At the same hospital she battled the infection, Ateca walked out Thursday with a “I got mine” sticker.
“All I know is that it was very hard for me,” Ateca said of her hospital stay last year.
Pediatrician Joanna Lewis said the vaccine is safe and encouraged parents to think of it the same way they do about vaccines that prevent measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.
“Getting this vaccine is no different from all the other vaccines children get over time, and we have to remember that kids pick up on the feeling parents are giving off,” she said.
Walgreens and CVS will begin offering the shots this weekend.