Newly vaccinated couple reflects on hospital stay that shifted their perspective

Wichita couple
Posted at 3:14 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 19:45:32-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A newly vaccinated couple is looking back on the events that led to their decision.

Thomas and Holly Ekeler of Wichita, Kansas, were initially skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We wanted to make sure the vaccine was safe before we got it," Holly Ekeler said. "It never really hit home until I got it (COVID-19) and then our friends, their father got it and passed away, so it really just hits home a lot quicker."

Unvaccinated and pregnant, Holly Ekeler contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to a hospital in Wichita. She was then flown to the University of Kansas Health System and spent seven days on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

“That’s a very scary thing when they explain that to you as a spouse with your wife and your child," Thomas Ekeler said.

Seeing his wife and unborn child, Henry, on video in the hospital, Thomas said he felt hopeless.

“I thought that I was going to lose her or both of them because of the situation that she was going through at the time," Thomas Ekeler said.

Holding onto hope, Holly Ekeler improved, as did Henry. After being discharged from the hospital, the Eklers were vaccinated against COVID-19 more than a week later. Now, the family is sharing their story in hopes it encourages others to get vaccinated.

“Being in the hospital and seeing all the patients, and all the nurses that are running their tails off and all the doctors that came in and were like, 'you have to get vaccinated, you have asthma, you have all of this working against you as well and you’re pregnant too,' and so of course he (Henry) comes first, so I want him to be as healthy as possible," Holly Ekeler said.