COVID Death of Teacher With Cancer Sees Family Urge People to Get Shots

A Florida teacher has passed away due to COVID complications after medical conditions meant she was advised against getting a vaccine.

Tributes have poured in for Kelly Peterson, 41, who was a staff member at Lake Shipp Elementary School in Winter Haven.

Peterson had been advised against getting a COVID vaccine by medics as she was undergoing treatment for leukemia, her sister told Fox32.

She said: "Because her leukemia was so bad at this point, their concern was by getting the vaccine that potentially could put too much stress on her body."

On Monday, Peterson's sister Christy Peterson announced in a Facebook post that the 41-year-old had passed away earlier that morning.

She wrote: "The world will never be the same, early this morning Kelly Peterson earned her angel wings. She passed from complications from COVID. It was too much for her body to fight. She went peacefully and did not suffer."

Christy Peterson added she and her father were working on memorial arrangements and that they wanted to give her school friends the opportunity to pay respects. She also said that her sister was "one of a kind."

Following the teacher's passing, Stephanie Yocum, president of the Polk County teachers union, said the district had "lost a great soul" and added, according to Fox32: "I hope that adults start to set good examples for our kids. If wearing a mask can keep somebody from dying, that should be something that every person should do right now."

And Peterson's sister told the outlet: "If it helps even one more person decide, 'Let me get vaccinated,' it's worth it. People like Kelly can be saved."

According to Florida news outlet The Ledger, one of Peterson's colleagues Lorinda Utter, another teacher at Lake Shipp school, said Peterson had been "diligent" in taking precautions against COVID by wiping down devices and equipment when her students left and washed her hands carefully.

Utter added: "She did everything she could to try to stay away from COVID."

In a Facebook post, Lake Shipp Elementary said Peterson "has touched hundreds of students' lives and had made a lasting impression on us all."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that information about the safety of COVID vaccines for people with weakened immune systems due to other illnesses or medication is not yet available.

Further information about medical conditions and COVID vaccines can be found on the CDC's website here.

CDC data shows that 171,367,657 people have been fully vaccinated in the U.S.—equal to around 51.6 percent of the entire population.

School bus
A stock photo shows the front of a school bus. An unvaccinated teacher who passed away with COVID had reportedly been advised not to get a vaccine because of medical conditions. Garrett Aitken/Getty