Memphis Teen Football Player Who Died of COVID Was Vaccinated, Mom Says

A 16-year-old football player from Memphis, Tennessee, who was vaccinated against COVID-19 died from the virus over the weekend, his mother told local news.

Quintina Bucker said her son Azorean Tatum—who went by the name of Zo—had asthma and was vaccinated, Memphis-based station WREG-TV reported.

She said that Tatum, who attended Westwood High School, was healthy at the start of the academic year, but suspects he contracted the virus at school.

"He wasn't wheezing, he wasn't coughing, he was just happy-go-lucky. He was at school for three days, and he just drastically got sick. It's unbelievable," Buckner said.

Tatum collapsed at school on August 13 and was taken to Baptist Children's Hospital, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Bucker said the school called her and that paramedics rushed Tatum to the hospital.

"He couldn't stand up or anything," she recalled.

Tatum was then treated and released from the hospital. However, in the next few days, his condition worsened.

"I gave him Tylenol and stuff like that because he was already COVID positive," said Buckner. "When it seemed like it was just getting worse, I called the paramedics, and they took him to Le Bonheur [a children's hospital], and he passed at Le Bonheur."

She described her son as lovable and outgoing, and encourages people to get vaccinated.

"I'm not saying the outcome wouldn't be different, but, you know," she said.

A friend set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the family, which has generated nearly $3,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Words can not express the pain that she is experiencing," the organizer, Catina Mcgowan, wrote. "Please find in your heart to help with the expenses, yet to come."

Donors shared thoughts and prayers for the family in the comments section of the GoFundMe page.

"Losing a child has to be one of the most horrific things that can happen to a person," Donna Dunbar wrote. "Words cannot heal the heart or the absence his passing leaves, but I hope that knowing the love and support of those around you can help."

Breakthrough cases—instances of fully-vaccinated people contracting COVID-19—are expected to occur, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But being vaccinated also helps prevent serious infection. A new CDC study found that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are vaccinated, Axios reported.

Data indicates children and teenagers are being hit harder in the latest wave of COVID-19 cases. In Florida, children and teenagers now have higher coronavirus positivity rates than any other demographic. And in Georgia, school-aged children are more likely to have the virus than adults.

COVID-19 Testing Center
A teenager who was vaccinated against COVID-19 died from the virus over the weekend, his mother said. Above, a member of the Tennessee National Guard gathers information at a testing site in April 2020 in Springfield, Tennessee. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images