The cousin of a Texas mother of four who died this week following a month-long battle with COVID-19 told news outlets that she asked relatives to make sure her children get vaccinated before she was intubated.
Lydia Rodriguez, who was not vaccinated and whose husband Lawrence also died this summer after contracting COVID-19, was first hospitalized in mid-July, ABC 13 reported. According to a fundraising page set up on the family’s behalf, the couple were both in the ICU at the same time.
"Before she got intubated, one of the last things she told her sister was ‘Please make sure my children get vaccinated,’" Dottie Jones, the woman’s cousin, told the news outlet. "She would be there for her kids right now if she had been vaccinated."
Jones said Rodriguez initially didn’t trust the vaccines. According to the fundraising page, she homeschooled her four children, with the oldest two having recently graduated high school. The youngest sibling is an 11-year-old girl.
Rodriguez’s request echoes messages being shared across the U.S. as grieving relatives come forward urging those who haven’t been vaccinated yet to do so. A family in Arizona mourning the loss of their 47-year-old mother who died in July has been urging others to get their vaccine, as has the mother of a 28-year-old Alabama man who died of COVID-19. Christy Carpenter told the Montgomery Advertiser that she and her son were concerned about potential side effects from the vaccine.
"I know that if Curt had survived, he would have made sure everyone knew how serious this disease is, and how important the vaccine is," Christy Carpenter said. "My daughter and I are now carrying out that mission in his memory."
About 72% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported, with rates lagging in southern regions. Officials across the country have sounded the alarm as COVID-19 patients fill up ICUs.
Mississippi recently opened a second field hospital to combat the surge in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
"We as a state, as a collective, have failed to respond in a unified way to a common threat, we have failed to use the tools that we have to protect ourselves," LouAnn Woodward, Mississippi Medical Center head, told the news outlet.