SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Jeff Trefry said he originally thought the COVID-19 vaccines were ineffective and unnecessary.
"I was an anti-vaxxer," Trefry said, standing outside MultiCare's Spokane Valley Hospital. "I posted stuff on Facebook talking about how COVID wasn't real and it was just another virus and they were blowing it out of proportion."
Inside the hospital, his 18-year-old daughter Jadyn was inside a room recovering from severe illness after she contracted COVID-19.
"Sept. 1 was the first sign of any issue," Trefry said. "That was just a small cough. It wasn't really anything I would normally go to the emergency room with. Then on the 22nd, she was COVID-positive."
Jadyn didn't have any co-morbidities or underlying conditions. It started out with mild respiratory symptoms and a two-day loss of smell and taste. Then, three weeks later, Trefry said his daughter started experiencing flu-like symptoms. They took Jadyn to the emergency room for other symptoms multiple times before she eventually had to be taken to the Spokane Valley hospital by ambulance because her condition had worsened.
"I got the most gut-wrenching phone call a parent will ever receive. They told me that my daughter was in the critical care unit and that her prognosis was poor," Trefry said.
According to Trefry, doctors told him that Jadyn had a 90% chance of dying after she developed Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome. The illness normally occurs in children, and in Jadyn's case, was a result of COVID-19.
The syndrome led to a build up of fluid in Jadyn's chest, leading her to need a ventilator.
"This is a horrific thing. When you child opens her eyes while grasping her chest, begging for air. I don't want any other father or mother to have to go through that," Trefry said.
As his daughter battled COVID-19, Trefry started to feel guilty about his former anti-vaccine views. He said he got vaccinated originally because he wanted to stop wearing masks in certain situations.
But now, he's sharing a message with other parents.
"If you're on the fence about getting the vaccination, this isn't about you. It's about our children. This is happening all over the country, all over the world."
His daughter is recovering, and it's believed she won't have any long-term effects from her battle with COVID-19. Trefry was thankful for the work of the doctors and nurses at the hospital, one of which Trefey said told him they "had to save" his daughter.
"I love you, and thank you," Trefry said, when asked what he would say to those who treated Jadyn. "I can't express how much, I can't put into words. There's actually a sign on the front of this building that says 'Heroes work here.' That's not even close to the truth. I would multiply that by 10,000. That's what these people are."