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Bloomington teen with autism surprised after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 1:30 AM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 06:27:48-04

BLOOMINGTON — Most people don't enjoy the feeling of getting a shot, but for some the experience is much worse.

For Luc Meunier, 17, of Bloomington, who has autism and a separate medical condition that makes things like a simple needle poke more painful than that of the average person, he was terrified to get his COVID-19 vaccine.

However, he made it through thanks to a registered nurse at IU Health Paoli Hospital, who also had a surprise waiting for Luc after he received his vaccination.

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Read the full release from IU Health below.

For most, receiving their COVID-19 vaccine is a relief, though mostly uneventful.

But for Luc Meunier, his vaccine carried a dose of worry and surprise.

Meunier is a basketball-loving, nonverbal 17-year-old from Bloomington with autism and sensory integration disorder. The disorder magnifies pain in his brain which makes him terrified of needles.

“Something like an injection when I am saying, ‘Oh sweetie, it’s just going to be a pinch,’ I have to recognize that for him that’s not a small thing even though it’s going to be over quickly,” says Lisa Warren Meunier, Meunier’s mother.

Warren Meunier signed her son up for the vaccine as soon as 17-year-olds were eligible. She found an appointment at Indiana University Health Paoli Hospital's vaccine site and made the hour drive down.

For Meunier, the first shot was challenging. It took two nurses to get him vaccinated in the parking lot. His second COVID vaccine took even more effort.

“It was a little more challenging this time, but I think he realizes that it’s for his good,” says Allen Sullivan, RN who administered Meunier’s first vaccine and helped with the second.

Little did Meunier know the reward nurse Sullivan had waiting for him for being so brave.

In the lounge, Sullivan had set up balloons and a table with a box and a bag. Meunier would find an IU t-shirt, an IU hat, an IU flag, an IU night light, and IU stickers inside the bag. Inside the box an even bigger surprise: a basketball signed by members of the Indiana University Women’s Basketball team, who reached the NCAA tournament Elite Eight for the first time in the program’s history.

Being huge fans and having not attended a game this year due to the pandemic, he and Warren Meunier were delighted.

“I’m kind of thinking it’s going around the kitchen table, around the island probably if you’re going to be kind enough to share it with me,” said Warren Meunier as she turned to her son.

Unwrapping the presents would be pain-free. But it was a special message played on an iPad from one of Meunier’s favorite players that would bring tears for mom.

“Hey Luc, this is Mackenzie Holmes here from Indiana Women’s Basketball. I heard that you recently got your Covid-19 vaccine which is so awesome. I just want to thank you for doing your part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and I also want to thank you for being a fan and a supporter of Indiana Women’s Basketball,” said sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes in the video.

The gifts were all organized for Meunier by Sullivan with help from Indiana University Athletics.

“I wanted to make his vaccine as special as I could for him, so he didn’t think that all nurses are bad; we are good,” explains Sullivan.

The gesture touched Warren Meunier; she plans to invite Sullivan to an IU women’s basketball game next season: “Allen and I just met a few weeks ago, and the person that helped my son get through his first COVID shot is always going to be a very important part of our lives. I can just tell that already that we’re going to be staying in touch.”