LA MARQUE, Texas - Dottie Jones hopes she'll soon be able to fulfill her cousin's dying wish.
"One of the last things she said before she was put on the ventilator to her sister was please get my children vaccinated," Jones told FOX 26.
Her cousin, Lydia Rodriguez, 42, died on Monday -- just two weeks after her husband, Lawrence Rodriguez, 49. They both died from COVID-19.
Jones says the La Marque couple caught COVID-19 in late June at a church camp with their four children. Their children, 18-year-old twin boys, a 16-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl, were also infected, but Jones describes their symptoms as mild.
Jones says Lydia and Lawrence did not believe in vaccines and were reluctant to seek medical treatment.
In mid-July, the couple was admitted to the ICU.
"They asked their doctor for the vaccine in the hospital but were told it was too late," Jones said. "It was her choice and she paid a heavy price for it."
Jones says the couple's children are also paying the price.
The family loved music. Lydia was a piano teacher and liked to post videos of her boys leading worship at church. It's a joy they'll never experience together again.
"If the story scares you, it should. It's a horrible story. It's heartbreaking," Jones emphasized.
Jones is a nurse practitioner in Lufkin. She says she tried to talk to Lydia about the importance and safety of vaccines. Jones is devastated that her cousin believed the misinformation online.
"She read a lot of the things you find on the internet about vaccines, in general, a lot of the anti-vax narrative," she added.
Jones now feels it's her mission to share her cousin's story in hopes it will spare another family from pain.
"I just want that misinformation that spreads to be stopped. It's just, we have to debunk it. We have to somehow get through to people," she stressed.
As for the couple's children, Jones says, the two youngest are moving in with a family member and they are all struggling with this unimaginable loss.