28-Year-Old Who Wasn't Vaccinated Because She Feared the Shot Would Affect Her Breastfeeding Son Dies of COVID
Jackqueline Lowery was a mom of two who worked as a middle school science teacher and volleyball coach. She has been described as "a vibrant soul adored by her family and community." On September 18, the 28-year-old died after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19.
Now, her grieving family is urging others to get vaccinated.
According to her mother, Lowery didn't get vaccinated because she was breastfeeding her 9-month-old son and wasn't sure how the vaccine would affect him.
"I am advising everybody to please get the shot," her mother, Emma Lowery, told the local South Carolina ABC News affiliate. Emma Lowery went on to explain that she too had COVID-19, but she had been vaccinated. "I am begging. I am asking. I am crying. Get the shot. It will save your life. I love my daughter. I love my community. I love my family. Please get the shot. To save your life."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for people 12 years and older, including those who are breastfeeding. Vaccination for breastfeeding moms may be especially vital, as the CDC reports that people who were recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill if they contract COVID-19.
"COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding," the CDC explained.
Recent findings also show that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) have antibodies in their breastmilk, the CDC states. While more data is needed, this suggests that breastmilk could pass on protective benefits to the babies, the agency noted.
Lowery's cousin, Jessica Brigman, is a registered nurse who has treated many patients with COVID-19, and she too is pleading for people to get vaccinated. She told ABC that seeing her cousin hospitalized for three weeks with COVID and then dying from it was her family's "worst nightmare."
"I have seen it over and over and over again," Brigman wrote. "Along with my staff, every physician, every nurse, respiratory therapist, we have seen it. And that's why I have been begging my family. And other friends. Anybody that asked me on Facebook. Should I get vaccinated? And I'm like, yes and this is the reason why. I don't have to give them any more data. I don't have to give them any more reasons, if anybody asks me, why they should get the vaccine? I'll show them her picture."
The middle school where Lowery had worked for five years announced her passing in a September 21 Facebook post. "Ms. Lowery … made an impact on many lives. Your positivity, caring nature, and smile will truly be missed," the post said.
Community members expressed their condolences and shared their memories of Lowery in the comments section. "Ms. Lowery was such a positive influence on everyone around her. Her smile could brighten [anyone's] day," one person wrote. "Such a sweet and compassionate educator and coach!!! She will be missed by many!," someone else said. "A nice human being, caring and friendly," another person wrote.
When Lowery got sick, she was in the prime of her life, her mother told ABC. She bought her first home just months earlier, in April 2021, "and transformed it into an oasis of love for her family," according to a GoFundMe set up on behalf of her son and 13-year-old daughter, who will now be taken care of by Lowery's mom.
The way Lowery cared for her two children was just one of the things that people admired about her. "Eternally grateful for the many moments we shared with Jackie… there was never a dull moment. Her presence was a gift and genuine," someone said in a comment on the GoFundMe page. "I have always admired how she carried herself, raised her daughter and son, and loved her family & friends. She will forever be in our hearts!"
For the community, friends, and family, the loss has been devastating. "Don't nobody want to go through right now [what] I'm going through with my family," Lowery's mother told ABC. "I am just asking God to keep me. And to keep my family."
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