Mighty Blog

A simple COVID-19 vaccine decision for their kids: the Reed family's story

At the end of the day, all families want what’s best for their little ones. And Children’s Minnesota does too! That’s why we encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated, including kids ages 5 years and older.

Here to share why they got vaccinated and why they hope others do too is the Reed family.

Meet the Reeds

Jamie Wangen-Reed and Shaun Reed, parents of Harrison (12), Lincoln (8) and Tallulah (2), are right there with you when it comes to navigating the COVID-19 vaccine process. Like many others, they’ve been following the news and patiently waiting for final approval to be given for 5- to 11-year-olds.

This busy family of five from the Twin Cities area is no stranger to the health care system. In fact, Jamie described them as “an anomaly when it comes to medical conditions.” Both Jamie and Shaun have autoimmune diseases. Eight-year-old Lincoln has juvenile arthritis, respiratory issues and asthma. Before she was born, 2-year-old Tallulah was diagnosed with Down syndrome, spent 87 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Minnesota and now regularly sees many of our specialists, including cardiology, neurology and genetics. You can read more about Tallulah’s story of perseverance here.

“I’ve seen Tallulah on a ventilator and I’ve seen Lincoln experience severe respiratory distress. It’s terrifying,” explained Jamie. “After witnessing that, it really changes your perspective. Of course, every parent wants to do everything in their power to make sure their kids are happy and healthy. I think that parental instinct kicks in even more after scary events like that.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reeds stayed home for the 2020 holidays and made sure to follow necessary social distancing, masking and hand hygiene precautions. Like many others, they missed their old lifestyle and saw the vaccine as the light at the end of the tunnel.

Getting vaccinated

For Jamie and Shaun, their family’s health history made their COVID-19 vaccine decision a simple one. On top of their own autoimmune diseases, Shaun works with the public and both are primary caretakers of Tallulah. Unfortunately, adults with Down syndrome are four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and ten times more likely to die from it. While the same research hasn’t been formally done for kids like Tallulah, we do know they are at a higher risk, making it even more crucial for the Reeds to stay healthy.

Thankfully, the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota helped Jamie and Shaun get vaccinated during phase one of the roll out. Once eligible, twelve-year-old Harrison was vaccinated and ready to return to his packed schedule as a football, basketball and baseball player.

As you know, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, making Lincoln eligible to follow in his big brother’s footsteps. “We consider ourselves to be a very practical family,” said Jamie. “When dealing with our slew of health issues, we’ve always followed the advice of our care team. We see this circumstance as no different. We trust their research and recommendations.”

The home stretch

As the Reeds head back to in-person school and sports practices, the world is beginning to feel like it did before. Jamie believes the return to normalcy is thanks to the scientists who tirelessly researched, the health care providers who put themselves on the frontlines, and community members, both near and far, who have gotten vaccinated.

“Our family is very understanding and reasonable. We’re not controversial. We do not judge others,” Jamie stated. “In my opinion, I truly don’t see a way out of this pandemic unless almost everyone who is medically and religiously able to get vaccinated does so.”

When asked why it was important for her family to share their story, Jamie said, “We’re living proof that you never know how a short-term illness or life-long condition will affect you. The vaccine helps reduce a lot of our risk.” She went on to say, “If readers can learn one thing from our health ups and downs, it’s to expect the unexpected. If you can avoid COVID-19 altogether, why wait and see how it may affect your family?”

Children’s Minnesota appreciates the Reeds openness when sharing their perspective. We encourage you to follow their lead and talk with your child’s primary care provider about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. To learn more, check out our resource page or visit the CDC website.