By Dora Totoian • Of The News-Register • 

After bout with COVID, nursery worker encourages everyone to get vaccinated

When Mota Garcia, who for 11 years has worked at a nursery in Dayton, had an opportunity to take the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine a few weeks ago, the choice was obvious. 

“It’s meant so much to me. I don’t want to get sick again,” Mota Garcia said in Spanish. “Everyone in my family got the vaccine.” 

On a Saturday in June, Mota Garcia attended a family gathering with her three siblings who live nearby. One of her brothers remarked he felt like he had the flu, and by the next Wednesday, she started feeling unwell. She was fatigued, her throat hurt, had a constant headache, and she’d lost her sense of taste, she said. 

Mota Garcia knew she could no longer stay at work. One of her coworkers is significantly older than her, and though they had all worn masks at work, she worried she’d already passed the virus on to her. Fortunately, her coworker tested negative, she said. 

On Friday, her sister informed her Mota Garcia’s nephew was in the hospital after testing positive for the virus. 

Mota Garcia said she has rheumatoid arthritis, which causes a person’s immune system to mistakenly attack its own body’s tissues, and she was significantly sicker than anybody else in her home, she said. 

“People think, ‘I won’t get it’ or, ‘Not everybody can catch the virus,’ but that’s a lie,” she said. 

She went to the hospital two times during her illness, though she never had to spend the night there, she said. She was desperate to go outside and would lean her head out the window for fresh air, she said. 

The nursery where she works paid her for 80 hours of work, but she normally works more in a two-week timeframe, and it was difficult to pay her bills, especially given that she sends part of her paycheck to relatives in Mexico, she said. 

People from human resources at the nursery brought pizza to her family when they couldn’t leave the house, and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, where she received the COVID-19 vaccine, also brought them groceries, she said. 

Her employer required two negative COVID-19 tests before returning to work, Mota Garcia said; the more her illness dragged on, the less likely seemed the prospect of ever testing negative. 

But eventually, that day arrived, and now Mota Garcia is diligent about reminding those around her to wear their masks and encourages everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“There are people who don’t want it. They’re afraid they’ll become zombies or go crazy,” she said. “The people who haven’t suffered (through COVID-19) say that.”


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