This Mom of a Daughter with Sensory Issues Can't Wait to Get Her Vaccinated 'So We Can Start Living Life Again'

Laura Petix is a pediatric occupational therapist in Southern California whose almost-5-year-old daughter, Liliana, is sensory sensitive. Liliana's sensory issues have given Laura a whole new lens to explore her work, and she chronicles her life with her daughter and her work as an OT on her popular Instagram, the OT Butterfly. 

Laura's family has been exceptionally careful throughout the pandemic. Now, as a fully-vaccinated mom to a child who hopefully will be eligible for the vaccine soon, she tells PEOPLE in her own words why she will get her child a COVID vaccine as soon as she can.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we were living with my parents, who are older. I wanted to protect them, of course. Then my dad's brother got COVID and passed away in June 2020. Because it hit so close to home, we had a heightened level of consciousness. I take COVID safety very seriously; it's not just about us, it's about wanting to protect our community, to not spread it to people we don't know. I'm the worrier of the family, and truly, the only way I get sleep at night is by knowing I'm doing everything in my power to keep not only us but our community safe. 

There was zero hesitation about getting vaccinated myself. I was up all night, refreshing appointments, trying to get the first slot I could. Liliana came with my husband and me to get our shots, so she knows how important it is. 

At that time, thinking about getting the vaccine for my daughter, I wasn't as sure. I thought, Oh, it sounds great, but I might wait a few months to see real people in my neighborhood who've gotten it. Then, it got approved for ages 12 and up. Then five and up. And now it's like I just want to be able to get it for her! I've read enough and talked to enough people that I want her to get whatever's being offered [to her age group].

With Liliana being sensory sensitive, even a normal cold is so miserable for us. If she can't breathe through her nose or has a cough, it impacts everything times ten. Her sensitivities, like to socks — tactile experiences like feeling of a seam on her toes can be extremely difficult for Liliana — become magnified. Sleep becomes an issue. She's so dysregulated, and that's just for a week or two. I definitely don't want her to experience an illness that could have long term effects. I actually considered enrolling her in a [vaccine] trial, but for a sensory sensitive kid, I have to be very careful about how many shots I offer her! But if I knew she would have gotten the vaccine and not a placebo, I would have done it.  

We have talked about her getting the vaccine. She knows it's coming. I've told her it's almost her turn. She calls all shots "flu shots," and she'll ask "Oh, is it going to be a real flu shot?" I tell her yes, and that it will hurt, but once we get it, we can enjoy places again. We can go to Disneyland and take our masks off outside. We can go to the aquarium. She has a recent obsession with Hawaii, and I told her we can even go to Hawaii when we're all vaccinated. So she knows it's coming. She knows it's going to hurt. But she knows the benefits and she knows it's necessary. 

I am for sure going to make a post [on my Instagram] when she's vaccinated. [Even with my larger following], I'm not worried about any backlash. I mean, I know it's going to happen, but I'm not worried. There are always people who feel the need to reach out and tell me I'm doing something wrong, and it used to really mess with me, but now I just take it with a grain of salt. I know this is right for my family. Keeping her safe is my priority. 

As parents of kids under 5, we feel so left behind. I want her vaccinated so we can start living life again. I know we're going to have to live with this virus, but this is the final stretch. The vaccine is coming any day now. We just have to not catch this for a little bit longer. 


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