Family of COVID-19 Victims Scrambles to Find Leftover Vaccine Doses

“We have really bad stress and anxiety from what happened," said Cynthia Rodriguez, South Bay resident who lost both parents to COVID-19 just hours apart

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Juan and Cynthia Rodriguez see themselves in a race against fate.

“If they have extra [vaccines] we want to get it,” said Cynthia Rodriguez. “We know what it's like to have COVID.”

Their hunt for a coronavirus vaccine is centered almost entirely on their parents, Blanca and Juan Manuel Rodriguez, who lost their lives to the coronavirus last month.

“I held her hand when she was passing away,” said Cynthia Rodriguez. “I know how devastating it is to see someone passing away from COVID. I just want to get vaccinated."

The couple was 67 years old. They were high school sweethearts and they had four kids, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. 

They lived in the South Bay community of Nestor and their family says they were taking the coronavirus very seriously.

“They wanted to get vaccinated so bad,” said Cynthia Rodriguez. "Each day they would look at the news to see when it was going to be their turn and they missed it by like a week.”

The duo began feeling ill in mid-January. On January 30, family members called 911 for both parents. They were admitted into the hospital and put on ventilators. 

One week later, they both passed away. Blanca went first and just four hours later Juan Manuel’s organs also gave up. 

Now, their kids are doing everything they can to make sure the family doesn't have to go through any more pain by visiting different distribution sites around the county hoping to get leftover shots.

“We came here to see if they have extra [vaccines] so that we can get it,” said Juan Rodriguez. “Because we know that some places have extras that they give out at the end of the day.”

Leftover shots exist because the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have a limited life span. No-shows or miscalculations often leave sites with extras. 

San Diego’s vaccine eligibility guidelines haven't opened up yet to include the Rodriguez siblings, who fall into group 1C for COVID-19 immunizations. 

Group 1C is next on the list but due to their underlying conditions, the Rodriguez siblings feel like they cannot wait any longer. 

“We’re going to keep trying for my parents,” said Juan Rodriguez. “I just feel like it's something we have to do for my parents and it's something we’re going to keep trying and trying.” 

Racing against time to get vaccinated before the virus can hurt their family anymore.

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