A 17-year-old girl who is in hospital after falling seriously ill with COVID says she has been targeted by anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists after urging young people to have the vaccine.
Maisy Evans, a former member of the Welsh Youth Parliament, told Sky News she feared she would die when her oxygen levels “dropped dramatically” after contracting coronavirus.
The teenager from Newport, South Wales, says she has struggled with symptoms including dizziness, shortness of breath, “excruciating” headaches and a loss of smell and taste, as well as suffering a COVID-related blood clot on her lung.
She tested positive for the virus on 14 August, three days after having her first Pfizer jab, but she says doctors have insisted her illness and her blood clot are not related to the vaccine.
After revealing her ordeal on social media, Maisy says she has been targeted online by trolls accusing her of being a “liar” and an “actress paid by the government”.
She told Sky News: “I’ve had to deal with a lot of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists which is deeply frustrating.
“I’ve been called a liar, an actress paid by the government to push certain agendas, Satan, a Nazi, evil, and so many more things.
“It’s totally uncalled for.”
Maisy, who is being treated at the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, says the virus has left her struggling to stand without getting out of breath and it takes her an hour to recover from having a shower.
“It feels like I’ve ran 40 miles,” she said.
“I’ve probably had every possible symptom. I’ve had the cough, the high temperature, the shakes, the sickness, the dizziness, the shortness of breath, the excruciating headaches, the body aches. You name a symptom – it’s hit me.
“I even lost my sense of smell and taste.
“Most of these symptoms have eased but the breathlessness is definitely still an issue. It was one of the last symptoms to develop.”
After suffering with the effects of the virus at home for about two weeks, Maisy was admitted to hospital on 25 August fearing she had meningitis after her condition worsened.
However after several blood tests, X-rays and CT scans, she says a COVID-related blood clot was found on her right lung.
“Before I was taken to hospital we called NHS 111 for advice because I had such a bad headache and severe neck pain,” she said.
“I couldn’t lift my head without wanting to scream. That’s when they sent a first responder and started to worry about meningitis.
“There was a moment where I feared for my life – my oxygen saturation levels dropped dramatically and it was really scary.
“Thankfully, my levels slowly increased and I was okay.
“I haven’t been told how long I’ll be in for. I guess that depends on the progress I make.”
After receiving a message of support on social media from Newport East MP Jessica Morden, Maisy said her experience was “a tale that needs to be shared”, adding: “I’d love to know how different my story would be if I’d been offered the vaccine just a week or two earlier.”
Experts have warned that it is “highly likely” there will be large levels of coronavirus infection in schools by the end of September, with pupils in England and Wales returning to classrooms this week.
A first dose of the COVID vaccine is being offered to 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK – with no second dose planned as yet – while vaccinations have also been recommended for those aged 12-15 if they are at higher risk from the virus.
Maisy says her message to young people is: “Get the vaccine to protect yourself.”
“We are extremely lucky to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine and it’s important we take up the opportunity to receive the doses because it’s all about weighing up the risks,” she says.
“Clearly, the virus itself poses a risk to young people – I learnt the hard way – so getting a vaccine to protect yourself is so important.”