PORTSMOUTH — Tom Imm was a big teenager. At least, that’s how his daughter Chloe always saw him.
He was energetic. He loved being with his friends and family, loved going out and was rarely sick. Then he contracted COVID-19, and everything changed.
“My dad came home one day and was like, ‘I don’t feel good,’” she recalled.
As a student at Ohio University, there is a certain amount of stress already penciled into Chloe’s life. In a normal year, that usually refers to midterms and finals. During a pandemic, there are new factors born from online learning and social distancing.
But Chloe’s circumstances were even more difficult. That’s because, just a matter of weeks after he came home sick, Chloe’s father would be gone.
Although he was generally healthy, Tom’s health deteriorated quickly. The same man that Chloe says would come home to chop wood because he loved sitting by the fire was steadily growing weaker. He had highs and lows, but ultimately needed to be hospitalized. It wasn’t long until he was in an Intensive Care Unit, then transferred to a facility in Lexington and put on double-life support.
His wife, Keri, went to see him every day. Chloe was entering her Finals Week but joined her mother when she could. She emailed professors from hotels and hospitals trying to explain her situation.
“During the actual Finals Week was a rough time for him, so both of my aunts and I went up there so I could see him,” she said. “I had to email my professors and tell them what was going on. They were really, really supportive, which I was thankful for.”
The university’s support and understanding helped, but some things were simply beyond her control. On December 16, Tom lost his battle with COVID. He died just two days after vaccines were first made available to the American public.
Chloe Imm had just seen firsthand the heart-wrenching worst-case scenario of a COVID diagnosis. If things had worked out differently, she admits she may have waited longer for the vaccine. However, after watching COVID take an otherwise healthy man from her life, she decided to get it as soon as she could.
Many of Chloe’s friends reached the same conclusion. In fact, she categorizes most of the people she personally knows as “pro-vaccine.” Her age group plays an important role in ending the pandemic, especially as data suggests younger people are more impacted by new variants of COVID.
Given her personal experiences, it isn’t surprising that Chloe encourages others to receive the vaccine – or that she encourages them not to take their loved ones for granted.
“This happened in the blink of an eye,” she said. “So do what you can to stay healthy. If that means getting your vaccine or wearing a mask, or just eating right, you need to do it.”
Not just for you, but for those you care about, too.
Southern Ohio Medical Center is currently offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone 16 years or older. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. If you have not yet received your vaccine, call 740-356-CARE to schedule an appointment.