Their mother almost died of COVID-19, but brothers in Czech Republic believe they have since convinced hundreds in their family to get vaccinated
Monika Sztojková, age 55, did not believe COVID-19 was a dangerous disease until she almost died of it in hospital - she had been afraid of the vaccine because she believed disinformation making the rounds falsely claiming the vaccine could kill her. Her sons and extended family all perceived COVID-19 the same way.
Czech news server Seznam Zprávy has now published their story. When Sztojková first experienced chills, fatigue and fever, she was convinced it was a common flu.
She didn't want to be tested and treated herself at home with over-the-counter paracetemol, tea and vitamins. After losing consciousness she had to be hospitalized, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs caused by an untreated COVID-19 infection.
Three days later her condition had deteriorated so much that she was taken to the anesthesiology and resuscitation ward of Masaryk Hospital in Ústí nad Labem. She spent 44 days in hospital, half of them in an induced coma.
She lost 21 kilograms during that time. Fortunately, the entire story has a happy ending and she won her battle against COVID-19.
"All of this could have been avoided, though. If Ms Sztojková had gotten the vaccine, that would have been enough to spare her," head physician Josef Škoda of the anesthesiology and resuscitation ward told Seznam Zprávy.
For the almost two months that their mother was ill, her sons Erik, Mario and Vincent admit that they did not perceive COVID-19 to be a danger until they had to bring her to the hospital. "We simply didn't believe the virus could be as dangerous as was being said everywhere," Erik and Vincent told the news server.
"We wouldn't have gotten vaccinated even if God had said to," the younger sons admitted. Mario, the oldest, was the only family member vaccinated, and he only did so because he commutes between the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the certificate of vaccination makes that easier.
When other relatives from their extended family learned that Sztojková had ended up in hospital, their negative position on the vaccine reversed itself. Her sons changed their opinion of vaccination as well.
All have since been vaccinated against COVID-19. "I told everybody - my family, customers in the store, my friends - that they have to get vaccinated, and I used my Mom's example," Mario explained to Seznam Zprávy.
"If she had been vaccinated, she would never have been in such serious condition in the hospital," the oldest son says. From what they have heard from their relatives, the brothers estimate they have persuaded more than 200 of their extended family members to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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