Dog vaccine

After losing hair from COVID-19, 7-year-old girl from Regina excited for first dose of vaccine

Seven-year-old Cedar Herle closed her eyes and grabbed the fur of a therapy dog ​​as she received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Regina clinic this weekend.

But she never hesitated.

“I want COVID to be gone forever and never come back,” she said.

As pressure continues for children between the ages of five and 11 to get vaccinated, the curly-haired brunette knows firsthand the long-term effects of the disease. Cedar lost all of her hair after contracting COVID-19 a year ago, and she saw her mother suffer a COVID-related stroke.

“She had to stay in bed a lot,” Cedar said.

A Chesapeake Bay retriever named Tuscany, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, kept Cedar company as she received her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a Regina clinic on the weekends. end. (André Herlé)

Andrea Herle, 39, a mother of three, is still recovering from the long-term effects of the disease. Her physiotherapy doesn’t even include movement of her body yet – just breathing exercises.

“We don’t want COVID in our house anymore,” Herle said. “I never, ever imagined being under 40 and having a stroke.”

At first, just a “drawback”

In November 2020, Herle, a licensed practical nurse who had just returned to work after maternity leave, was caring for COVID-19 patients at their home.

Then, on December 5, 2020, she woke up sweating with a pounding heart, body aches and nausea. She knew immediately that she had been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, but at that point, she mostly felt annoyed by the “inconveniences” of a 14-day quarantine.

Cedar, left, sits with his mom, Andrea Herle, baby sister Stevie and big sister Layla in their Regina home. It has been a year since the family contracted COVID-19, and the disease has changed their lives. (Matt Duguid / CBC)

Herle spent most of those two weeks in bed, with her husband and children showing only mild symptoms.

Then, a few weeks later, Cedar started taking numerous naps, throwing up, and losing his hair in clumps. His parents noticed that the bald spots were getting bigger.

“It happened very quickly. Every day she was losing hair until she didn’t have any,” Herle said.

Cedar’s hair was straight and almost blonde before falling out after contracting COVID-19. It grows back curly and dark brown. (André Herlé)

This sparked weeks of uncertainty, blood tests and consultations with specialists, who concluded that the coronavirus had likely triggered an autoimmune response and alopecia (hair loss). Skin and hair problems are documented effects of the virus, but research is still in its infancy.

A new international registry has started tracking alopecia in people who test positive for COVID-19.

Blue code

Meanwhile, Herle was considered “recovered” from her own COVID-19, despite persistent fatigue and brain fog, and she returned to work.

“The first week of February I felt sick again. I felt all the symptoms of COVID again and thought, ‘Well that’s so weird,’” she said. .

This time, the neurological symptoms scared him.

She couldn’t remember things or form thoughts, her left side was weak and she couldn’t move her fingers. She knew something was “really wrong”.

Herle was admitted to Regina General Hospital for nine days for several tests. Four neurologists examined her case, and medical records confirm that she had “sustained a small stroke which could be due to inflammation or a prothrombotic condition linked to COVID-19.”

Herle is breastfeeding her one-year-old daughter, Stevie, at Regina General Hospital earlier this year while undergoing tests and analyzes for a stroke linked to COVID. (Submitted by Andrea Herle)

When Herle was in the hospital, her body seemed to come to a stop, prompting an emergency response from Code Blue.

“And I remember my husband opened his eyes and just screamed at me to breathe. And at that moment I was like, ‘Is this it? It can’t be that,'” recalls -she.

WATCH | Andrea Herle describes the kind words of a nurse who followed her:

COVID-19 patient with stroke describes inspiring words from nurse

A Regina woman who suffered a minor stroke from COVID-19 remembers what an intensive care nurse told her after she nearly died at Regina General Hospital. These kind words helped 39-year-old Andrea Herle through difficult times. 1:42

Ten months later, Herle is still on leave with workers’ compensation for the work-related illness.

She works hard to regain her strength but doesn’t push herself to the point of suffering setbacks. A neurologist warned her that her brain could take a year or two to heal, she said.

Childhood immunization has stabilized

The mother should limit Cedar’s activities so that she does not get tired. The girl’s hair is growing back, although it is now curly and dark brown instead of straight and light brown.

Herle says her daughter’s vaccination was a turning point.

Cedar poses for a photo after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a walk-in clinic in Regina on Saturday. (André Herlé)

“It’s been a lot of stress. But we’re lucky. We’re very lucky because there are a lot of people who have done a lot worse,” said Herle.

Cedar is one of 41,824 children in its age group 5 to 11 to receive the vaccine in Saskatchewan – about 37% of the eligible population in that age group – since pediatric doses were approved in Canada at the end of November. .

Dr Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician at the Regina General Hospital, expressed concern that use stabilized earlier than expected.

“There was a strong buy-in, you know, in the first week or two, and then we would naturally expect some things to slow down. I think we see maybe a little more reluctance. than we expected, quite frankly. ”he said.

Herle says she hopes her family story will remind people that the virus can have an unpredictable – and almost unimaginable impact.

After Cedar got vaccinated, she held up a sign that said, “Finish with you Covid! Get out of our house and leave my hair at the door!”