ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orange County Public School teacher who was hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than two months is pushing for more vaccinations ahead of the new school year.
Terry Greear and his wife, Stephanie, say their story is about hope, but also a warning to those who still question whether or not to get vaccinated.
”I am not an expert on the vaccine, but I am an expert on what can happen if you don’t get vaccinated,” he said.
The Greear family said Terry first contracted and was hospitalized with COVID-19 in January and it wasn’t until 72-days later when he would be released.
“I couldn’t believe it because when I first came to, it was January when I started and then they were like it is the middle of February ... I just feel like a part of my life was just gone,” he said.
At one point Terry Greear was on a ventilator and said his lungs collapsed while he was sedated.
This all made his road recovery long and kept him in the hospital until the end of March.
During his recovery, he had to re-learn almost everything, which he said was especially hard because he is a physical education teacher for an elementary school.
“Washing my hands was very difficult, walking from the hospital bed just to the door was a huge undertaking,” Terry Greear described.
Stephanie Greear said while her husband was hospitalized, the family received support from both schools where she and Terry work but says she couldn’t escape the thought of what if?
“It was hard to have the conversations with my kids because they are old enough to understand, it was hard enough to have the conversations that he may not come home and I didn’t want to lie to them and promise them things that wouldn’t happen,” Stephanie Greear said.
Now the couple is urging all eligible people to get vaccinated as teachers prepare for young students to return to school, many under 12 who are not eligible for vaccines yet.
The pair of educators work in Orange County Public Schools which are requiring employees and visitors to wear masks.
Asked if he was indeed ready to get back into teaching considering everything he’d been through, Terry Greear said he hopes vaccines will be ready for all age groups soon.
“With this specific age group, but I am hoping soon it will be ready as long as we find ways to make sure we are safe I will be comfortable enough to do my job and that job is to help kids learn,” Terry Greear said.
The Greear family said for anyone still hesitant about getting the vaccine to think about their families, adding that one of the best ways to protect them is to get up and get the shot.