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A TikToker who spent her final conscious days begging people to get vaccinated has passed away after being hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to her family.
Megan Alexandra “Alex” Blankenbiller, 31, passed away in August, her sister said in an August 24 Facebook post. WebMD was the first outlet to report the news.
Blankenbiller said in a video posted on August 13 that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and urged her followers, “DO NOT WAIT TO GET VACCINATED!” Over the next few days, she posted a series of videos of herself in the hospital.
On August 14, Blankenbiller responded to a comment asking her why she was in the hospital if she got the vaccine by saying, “The vaccine is a layer of protection. It’s like a boot camp for your body to go up against COVID.”
“Now, unfortunately, I did not get vaccinated,” she added. "And it's not because I'm anti-vax. I waited too long. I was scared. There's nothing wrong with that...it's too harsh sometimes, it's OK to be scared, it's OK to be unsure." She added that the vaccines hadn’t been FDA approved; while three vaccines were authorized by emergency use at the time of her hospitalization, the FDA granted the Pfizer vaccine full approval on August 23, one day before Blankenbiller’s death.
Her sister, Cristina Blankenbiller, told WebMD that Alex, her sisters, and mother had all agreed to get vaccinated, but became ill before their appointments. “It's no secret this is something that should be taken seriously,” Cristina Blankenbiller told WebMD. “But there's so much misinformation out there.”
Alex Blankenbiller lived in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, according to her Twitter account. Florida has been one of the epicenters for the Delta variant; until recently the state was averaging more new cases daily than at any other point in the pandemic, and though it has appeared to turn a corner in recent weeks, more than 14,000 Floridians remain hospitalized.
In another video directed at a commenter who called her a “fear mongerer,” Blankenbiller grew emotional and said that since she’d entered the hospital, “all I’ve been hearing are the moans and screams of people in pain, people who I’m assuming have lost people that they love, because I know what that’s like personally.”
In her final video posted more than a week before her death, Blankenbiller appeared to struggle to breathe and pleaded with people to get vaccinated.
“Like I said in my other videos, I did not get vaccinated,” Blankenbiller said. “I'm not anti-vax. I was just trying to do my research. I was scared, and I wanted me and my family to all do it at the same time. And as I'm sure you guys know, it's hard to get everyone to agree on something if people feel differently.”
“I do think it was a mistake. I shouldn’t have waited,” she continued. “If you are even 70 percent sure that you want the vaccine, go get it. Don't wait. Go get it. Because hopefully if you get it then you won't end up in the hospital like me.”
Blankenbiller signed off from her video by telling viewers to get a pulse oximeter, which shows the user’s oxygen level. Levels below 90 percent are usually a cause for concern and a trip to the emergency room.
Nine days after posting her final video, Blankenbiller was dead, her sister posted on Facebook.
“Megan was such a beautiful person who gave her everything to anyone in need,” Cristina Blankenbiller wrote. “She was a light to all around her and brought joy to everyone she met. We are holding faith that my father held her hand as she greeted our Lord.”