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Graham-area homebuilder Levi Miller is tired of hearing excuses — he wants all of us to help protect children.

Like thousands of parents across Pierce County, Graham-area homebuilder Levi Miller took what he called a ‘calculated risk’ sending his unvaccinated kids back to school this fall. 

The Health Department works tirelessly with schools to make return to the classroom safe. Requiring masks, vaccinations for educators and a Test To Stay program helps protect school children. Pfizer announced in late September it is seeking authorization for use of its vaccine to be expanded for kids 5-11. 

Still the county’s COVID-19 numbers worry Miller, especially now. His kids, 7 and 5, are back to in-person school without the protection of vaccine. 

“We’re just hoping that with all the precautions in place and us being vaccinated it’s going to work,” Miller said. “But it’s definitely nerve-racking because you hear all the stories. We don’t want our kids to suffer.” 

Knowing COVID-19 firsthand. 

Miller tells it like it is, especially when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine. 

“It’s frustrating,” Miller said. “The fact that we’re living in the 21st Century and people won’t get a shot that will literally save their lives or their family’s life is ludicrous.” 

The father of two struggles to understand why some neighbors and friends haven’t gotten vaccinated. Data shows areas of Pierce County south and east of Graham have slightly lower vaccination rates than the county’s average.

“Taking the kids back to school is what we have to do,” Miller said. “We don’t want to–without them being vaccinated–but we have to.” 

Miller knows the pain of COVID-19 firsthand. In the summer of 2020, he spent 6 days in the hospital with severe symptoms from the virus. He had never been so sick. 

“It nearly killed me,” he said. “After being sick for 10 days, when I was admitted to the hospital my vitals were awful.” 

Miller credits his wife for making him go to the hospital a second time for likely saving his life. 

“Had it been up to me I would have just stayed in bed and rested,” Miller said. “If it wasn’t for my wife I would have just laid there, fallen asleep and probably never woken up.” 

Luckily, Miller said, doctors never ventilated him, and he got better on his own, though it took months. The episode taught him no matter how careful, “COVID-19 can find a way.” 

“We took it (COVID-19) seriously from Day 1,” Miller said, describing washing his clothes, limiting contacts, isolating himself from his family while working and taking other precautions at the early days of the pandemic. “But I still got it and it nearly killed me.” 

Vaccinate and mask for others. 

What frustrates Miller most about his COVID-19 experience is how some neighbors and friends of friends still downplay the disease. 

“People who knew I was sick are like, ‘Oh, COVID isn’t a big deal,” Miller said. “I’m like, ‘I almost died.’ How can you say it’s not a big deal?” 

Miller wants Pierce County to rise up and do what’s best—get vaccinated.

“Even if 1 million people wearing masks saves one life, that’s still one life,” Miller said. “It’s worth it. Do what’s right. How hard is it to wear a mask?” 

Find your dose.

Help keep children and others around you safe. Find your dose today at Everyone 12 and older is eligible. You can register online or just drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment.

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

Your role to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains critical.

Levi Miller and family.