'Why I'm Getting Vaccinated:' A Mom Whose Son Has Diabetes and Asthma — So Her Family Must 'Hide in the House'

PEOPLE's "Why I'm Getting Vaccinated" campaign hopes to fight vaccine misinformation and encourage people to get the shot as part of the battle against COVID-19. Noteworthy names and everyday people alike will share their powerful, personal reasons for getting vaccinated.

"why I'm getting vaccinated" series Lauren Kovnat
Photo: Studio K. Photography

Lauren Kovnat, 35, is a Hermosa Beach, Calif. mom of two who has spent the pandemic almost entirely inside in order to protect her 5-year-old son, who has two medical conditions, from the coronavirus. That has meant pulling her 8-year-old daughter out of activities, losing her job and now, expecting her third child and worrying about the doctors' visits that will entail. This is her story of why she can't wait to get vaccinated, as told to PEOPLE.

As soon as I'm approved to get the vaccine, I will be at the doctor immediately. My 5-year-old son, Oliver, has Type 1 diabetes. If he gets sick, he's at a risk for diabetic ketoacidosis -- which can kill him. It's one of those things that can come out of nowhere.

He has the extra issue of having asthma. And if you're having an asthma attack, you use an inhaler and inhaler is a steroid -- steroids raise your blood sugar. So every time he gets sick with a cough, he ends up with really high blood sugars. And it's really, really hard to control, because every time you give him the inhaler, you may as well feed him a brownie with no insulin. It's just this crazy spike spiral.

"why I'm getting vaccinated" series Lauren Kovnat
Courtesy Lauren Kovnat

So we do nothing. I just kind of hide in my house. I pretty much don't go anywhere. We might walk down to the beach. I usually get my groceries delivered. We don't socialize with anyone.

My husband works as an engineer for a government contractor. They are considered essential workers here in California so he has to go to work every day. After he got back from a business trip, I actually had him quarantine in our master bedroom for a week while I slept on the couch. He thinks I'm crazy, but I don't: He had to go on an airplane, stay in a hotel, go to a different facilities, with different people.

I lost my job because we couldn't come to a compromise with a schedule that worked for everybody. They wanted someone they could call all day long, and in the morning, I was dealing with virtual school, and I can't just not do school. I asked if I could work in the evenings, but they wanted me available when they were in the office. But because we had to pull the kids out of all their activities [to be safe], we have been able to save some money.

I worry, "What if?" You might be fine and you're probably gonna be fine, but what if you're not? What if you're the one that gets horribly sick?

"why I'm getting vaccinated" series Lauren Kovnat
Mark Dejohn

My 8-year-old daughter, Ruby, is the outgoing one, so quarantine has been devastating for her. My daughter was the only one in her dance class on Zoom, so the teacher was paying more attention to the other kids. And she was just in tears every time, so we took her out of dance, took her out of theater, took them both out of gymnastics and swimming lessons. All their activities are done.

We do have a little cul-de-sac, and there are other kids that live on the block that we'll play with outside. If it weren't for that, I think my daughter would have gone insane.

My son is just like, "Oh, I get to spend more time with Mommy!" And he's fine with that. But he's the shyer one, he really needs to learn how to socialize. He went through a hitting phase, he went through a "yelling at everyone" phase. My daughter is upset that she can't play with her friends; I think he's showing other, outward signs that he's struggling.

When the numbers weren't as bad near us, I signed them up to go back to school in person. But then cases started to spike, and I would have pulled him even if they didn't shut it down. [I worry about] education and socialization. But there's also the fear of: If he gets sick, will I be able to manage his blood sugar?

I know if he actually got sick from COVID, he would 100 percent need his inhaler, because he's never gotten sick with a cough without needing his inhaler. Whenever he's sick, I don't sleep the entire time — and for a week after — because I have to watch to keep his blood sugar in range. Even with a stomach bug, your body needs insulin to deal; I have to monitor his levels so he doesn't go unconscious and have a seizure because of low glucose.

And so I wonder: If he got sick, would I be able to deal with it? And: How do I keep him stimulated? How do I keep him learning? How do we keep them learning how to interact with other humans without being a big jerk?

"why I'm getting vaccinated" series Lauren Kovnat
Courtesy Lauren Kovnat

I'm worried about having to take my kids to a hospital and my son going into a coma. My daughter split her head open and I had to take her to the ER the other day. I didn't know which hospital to go to. I took her to the children's hospital, thinking, Maybe they have less COVID than the UCLA medical center. And the next day I saw on the news how bad Covid is at the medical center. And I'm like, "Thank God I went to the children's hospital."

Going to the doctor freaks me out. I just found out I'm pregnant — I'm due September 6. Hopefully, I won't have to go to the doctor's office too often. I'm trying to be hopeful that I'll be allowed to get the vaccine before I have the baby.

Before being released to the public, vaccine-makers went through large, lengthy clinical trials to ensure that their product is completely safe. On Sept. 8, nine of the leading vaccine makers — including Pfizer and Moderna — signed a pledge vowing to follow "high ethical standards" and not rush a vaccine into production before it is proven to work.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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