CAMERON, Mo. (WDAF) – A Missouri father got COVID-19. Then every one of the seven children living at home did, too.
The only person who didn’t get sick? His wife who is fully vaccinated. The family credits the vaccine with protecting her.
“It’s a good reminder of the miracle we faced,” Ben Anderson said about the hole in his throat. It’s from the tracheotomy doctors had to do to keep him alive. The 42-year-old had COVID-19 and pneumonia.
“I would think, ‘OK my number one job is don’t die,’” Anderson said.
Anderson went on a trip in late June. He came back with what he thought was a cold and immediately self-isolated away from his family.
After two weeks of not getting better, his wife, Tammy, took him to the emergency room. He needed a breathing tube and a higher level of care, so he was transferred to another hospital an hour away.
He spent 42 days there, most of them unconscious. For 35 days, he was on a ventilator.
“I was pretty close to being dead,” he said.
Anderson wasn’t vaccinated. He said he intended to get the shot, but admitted he was busy and didn’t make it a priority.
“There was a time it appeared when he may not have survived,” Dr. David McKinsey said. “Receiving the vaccine should be an extremely high priority for everyone at this time.”
McKinsey said 95% of the patients they’re now seeing in the ICU are unvaccinated, and only about 20% who need a ventilator survive.
Anderson was discharged from the hospital last week. Oxygen tubing now lines the family’s living room floor and ‘get well soon’ cards cover the door.
“It’s real. It’s so real,” Tammy warned. “We almost didn’t get his birthday that we celebrated in the hospital. We almost didn’t have our next anniversary.”
Tammy and Ben have seven children at home, ages 3-18. All of them tested positive less than a week after their dad. It’s unclear where exactly the kids were exposed to the virus. Tammy said there were known positive cases out of the several activities the kids were involved in at that time.
“If you were going to be home by yourself, husband in the hospital, seven kids at home — with COVID — would you get vaccinated?” Tammy said. “Yeah.”
“Why didn’t you get vaccinated?” FOX4 asked Anderson.
“I was busy,” he said, shaking his head.
“I got COVID and almost died,” he continued. “She got vaccinated but did not contract it.”
Anderson’s kids who are eligible plan to join their dad in getting the vaccine as soon as they recover.