After Getting COVID, This Louisiana Teen Made It His Mission to Get His Peers Vaccinated: 'This Is Our Fight'

Trenton Barfield didn't think he could catch COVID.

Then on spring break last year, he started feeling sick. When he got home, he tested positive for COVID. He began texting friends and family members, worried that he had gotten them sick too.

Now, the 18-year-old high school senior at Airline High School in Bossier City, Louisiana is an ambassador for the non-profit Teens for Vaccines. He now works to convince others – including his father, who is against vaccines – to take get the shot.

"I definitely want the virus to end," he says. "We have to work together."

At first, I thought COVID-19 was a joke — I told myself that so I could forget about it, so I could not think about how dangerous it really was. I would just say, "Oh, I'm immune," and take off my mask to make my dad mad — I do like joking with my dad, but he takes everything seriously, and he would just get really disappointed.

I'm in the middle of seven siblings; my biological father had five kids, I'm his youngest. My mom had three and my dad in Texas has two.

My mother and stepfather, who I live with in Louisiana, did take COVID very seriously; my mother works at LSU Hospital as a financial aid director and definitely wants COVID to end. But my family in Texas, they didn't plan on getting vaccinated, even though they are cautious about COVID.

I got COVID in April 2021, when I was on spring break. I went to my dad's house in Richmond, Texas. Every time I have a break or vacation, I usually go over there and work with him at the sign company just to make a little extra money.

Someone who works at the company was diagnosed with COVID, and everyone had to go get tested, and the people who were negative could come back to work. I got COVID tested on Wednesday, but I was negative.

I felt sick that Friday. I still went to work, even though I was feeling sick. I had congestion in my nose and in my chest too. It hurt whenever I was laughing and coughing and I couldn't laugh for a long time like I usually do — I laugh a lot. My co-worker told me to drink some green tea. It was disgusting, but it did help a little bit. But I didn't think it was COVID, I thought it was just a really bad congestion.

When I came home to Louisiana on the Sunday night before school started, my mom noticed that my voice sounded a lot deeper and different and she noticed that I was blowing my nose a lot. I told her that I was just sleeping in front of a fan, which is what usually happens whenever I get congested.

But she said, "No, we're going to the doctor in the morning."  The doctor tested me for COVID, and he said, "He has coronavirus," and it was shocking. Mom just said, "That's why I'm a mom."

She knew I was sick. She didn't know that I had COVID — she didn't suspect that at all — she just said, "Something is wrong."

I had to text a lot of people. Before I came home, I spent the night with my friend and his whole family at his house that Saturday. I was feeling really bad and selfish because I almost got my loved ones sick; my people at work, my family, my best friend and his family.

I was just saying, "Why? Why did this happen? Why did I give this to people?" But luckily, they were negative.

At that point, I hadn't gotten the vaccine, but as soon as I was recovered, my mom insisted that I go get the shot. I realized, I don't want to be that person, who could affect others and get them sick. I want to help, I don't want to spread.

I joined Teens for Vaccines in August of 2021, because I do want to promote the vaccine across the nation, and open up their eyes to see why it's actually beneficial to the world and why it could be the end of COVID.

My dad, he was anti-vaccine for the longest time, and I was trying to convince him. He got COVID recently during Christmas break, him and everyone else in that house, except for me and my little sister. He was sick — coughing, stuffed nose — he didn't enjoy it. So I said, "Do you think you want to get vaccinated now?" And he said, "Yes."

I got COVID again in January, when my little brother had it. I think he got it at a basketball event. When I got COVID the second time, after being vaccinated, it wasn't as bad — this is proof that the vaccine actually affects you beneficially — because I was a lot less symptomatic.

I didn't even feel I had it. The only symptom I had was a runny nose, and that was mainly it. Other than that, my conditions were normal and stable. It wasn't bad. My little brother, he was vaccinated, so he didn't feel that terrible. But my youngest brother, he wasn't old enough to get vaccinated, so he had a sore throat and headache.

I'm trying to motivate and convince other people  who definitely don't want to get vaccinated and don't plan to. I just tell them, "What was the end to polio and smallpox in the past? That was the vaccine." The solution to one virus, could definitely be the solution to another. Even though they have different ingredients, it was still a vaccine that ended that virus.

I wanted to join Teens for Vaccines because these people actually want to make a difference. We can't tell you what to do. We can't, but we can try, we can at least try. That's all they want to do, just help the world, make it better.

I motivated two of my cousins and two of my mom's coworkers to get vaccinated. I'm still trying to convince my dad; he hasn't booked his vaccine appointment yet. I'm going to get keep talking to him.

I failed at convincing someone yesterday. She was like me. She just thinks she's immune and she can't get it. Well, she probably already got it without even knowing it. I'm going to definitely keep trying with her — and other people too, whenever they say they don't want to get vaccinated.

I tell people, "When I got vaccinated, I did get COVID again, yes, but my effects were different. I was less symptomatic. I could breathe really good." I also use my mother because she's a prime example of why the vaccine actually works, because for her, it actually prevented COVID. She was in a house of people fully infected and came in close contact my with all of them, and she wasn't infected at all. She wasn't symptomatic or anything.

We need to work together. The world needs to work as a team, because the only people who can end this is us, no one else. This is our fight, and we need to handle it -- and we can handle it, but we have to work together.

We can't do this alone. The virus could end soon, but it's up to you.


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