Hamilton Journal News

Caregivers of frail kids get shot priority

- By Jonathan Mattise

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Sevenyear-old Carpenter Adoo has earned the nickname “Tiny but Mighty” in short order.

He underwent his first surgery at a week old and spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit. He’s powered through over a dozen procedures to keep the excess fluid draining from his brain safely, routinely greeting nurses with hugs and handshakes.

“He handles it all with a grace that I don’t know that I would ever be able to handle it,” Carpenter’s mother, Leah Williamson.

Carpenter’s medical condition makes him particular­ly vulnerable to COVID-19, putting him in a population that states are wrestling with how to prioritize as vaccine supplies fall short of demand. Tennessee recently joined a handful of states in moving the families of medically frail children like Carpenter upthe vaccine priority list. State officials bumped them above critical infrastruc­ture workers, grocery store employees and inmates, landing in the phase that follows teachers and child care staff.

iamson was encouraged but still hasn’t gotten answers about when she’ll get her turn.

With U.S. death toll at more than half a million, the threat to those with chronic health conditions remains high, especially for those younger than 16 who aren’t approved for the shots yet. Williamson hopes that lends urgency to the state of Tennessee’s willingnes­s to give her a vaccine.

She just knows that day can’t come soon enough.

Beforethep­andemic,fluseason terrified her. If Carpenter, who has hydrocepha­lus and chronic lung disease, were to catch COVID-19, the damage could be severe.

In January, Gov. Mike DeWine called Ohio’s vaccine prioritiza­tion “gut-wrenching” when asked why parents of immunocomp­romised children had not yet been bumped up in line there.

“It’s not ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” he said at a news conference. “It’s, ‘Yes, if we do you, somebody else is going to get shoved back or another group is going to get shoved back.’”

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