Local widow who lost husband to COVID-19 gets vaccine

A local widow who lost her husband to COVID-19 said she received the coronavirus vaccine in part to honor his life.

Lauri Santana said it was a bittersweet moment when she got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I just started crying because I’m so happy that I got it,” Santana said. “I’m so grateful that I could get it in memory of my husband, for myself, and for my children too.”

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

Action News Jax first introduced you to the family in January when Jessie Santana was fighting for his life in the ICU. He died Jan. 25.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is to sit there and watch him die,” Santana said. “I never ever thought I would be a widow at 31.”

Santana said she’s been waiting anxiously to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She said she was able to get the shot because she has a weakened immune system.

In Georgia, anyone 55 and older, people with disabilities and certain medical conditions can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said vaccine eligibility is expected to extend to all adults in April, supply permitting.

Coronavirus vaccine: County-by-county plan for Northeast Florida, Southeast Georgia

Santana said she hopes her family’s story will encourage others to get the vaccine.

“It’s so worth it. COVID took my husband away from me when he was only 34 years old and I don’t want it to happen to you or your family. It’s the best thing that you can do for yourself and for your community,” Santana said.