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Mom says 8-year-old daughter’s COVID-19 side effects include loss of toenails

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Pfizer hoped the lower pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the risk of any side effects, like body aches or a lower grade fever. But doctors say those side effects are nothing compared to the long-haul symptoms a child could have after catching the virus.

Between the virus and the vaccine, doctors say COVID-19 is the greater risk.

One Union County mother told Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis that her 8-year-old daughter is dealing with horrible side effects from contracting COVID-19 at the beginning of the school year. She said it’s completely changed their lives as her daughter has lost all of her toenails and lives in constant pain.

“It’s hard as a mom to watch your kid suffer,” Sara Lanthorn said.

She said one week into the school year, her daughter got COVID-19 after being in a classroom where most of her classmates don’t wear masks. Lanthorn said Addie’s case was mild but that three weeks after her daughter recovered, she began to show serious side effects.

“She would wake up and not be able to breathe or catch her breath,” Lanthorn said. “All day she would be in respiratory distress.”

She said Addie had irregular heartbeats and full-body nerve pain. Medicine twice a day helps control those issues, but one problem was a total surprise -- Addie lost all of her toenails.

“There was not enough oxygen flow to her feet while she had COVID and possibly blood vessel damage. No one knows, no one is quite sure,” Lanthorn said.

Doctors are seeing what they call “COVID toes” in some patients. Addie’s toenails haven’t grown back and doctors can’t say if they will.

“We don’t know. This could be a lifetime of issues for a child that was perfectly healthy prior to getting COVID,” Lanthorn said.

(WATCH BELOW: Preparation begins to get Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 5 to 11)

As a dancer, Addie has always been active and healthy. This weekend, she had to rest while trick-or-treating. Her parents wrap her feet at night to lessen the pain while she sleeps.

“She’s eight. She should be able to run and play and have fun,” Lanthorn said.

She has already booked vaccine appointments for two of Addie’s siblings. She hopes other parents will do the same.

“Are you OK with your child getting COVID and possibly having long-term side effects?” Lanthorn said. “Are you OK with them losing all 10 of their toenails and crying to you every night as you have to wrap their feet?”

Lanthorn said she holds the Union County Board of Education responsible for her daughter’s ongoing pain since they made masks optional.

There are 2,400 Union County parents who have organized and say they plan to protest at the School Board meeting on Thursday to ask the district to make masks mandatory -- at least until a majority of students can get vaccinated.

Thousands of parents make COVID vaccine appointments for kids ahead of CDC panel vote

Tuesday is expected to be a big day for children across the Carolinas, and the country, as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will vote on whether to recommend Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11.

The recommendation will then go to the agency’s director who could approve it as soon as Tuesday night for emergency use authorization.

Ahead of that crucial decision, local pharmacies are preparing to give out those shots.

“Well, I think a lot of parents are going to be really eager to get their children vaccinated just as I am eager to get my own child vaccinated,” parent Sara Boone said.

>> In the video below, Channel 9′s Glenn Counts found out thousands of parents have already made appointments for their children.


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