Some Covid Vaccine Hesitant Now Express Regret
PROVO, Utah – As Mindy Greene spent another day in the Covid intensive care unit, listening to the roar that now breathed for her husband Russ, 42, she opened her phone and typed a message.
“We did not receive the vaccine,” she wrote on Facebook. “I read all kinds of things about the vaccine and it scared me. So I made the decision and prayed about it and felt like everything would be fine. “
They were not.
Her husband, the father of their four children, now hovered between life and death, tentacles of tubes spilling out of his body. The patient in the room next to her husband’s had died a few hours earlier. That day, July 13, Ms Greene decided to add her voice to an unlikely group of people speaking out in the polarized national debate on immunization: remorse.
“If I had had the information I have today, we would have been vaccinated,” Ms. Greene wrote. Whatever happens, she hit “send”.
Amid a resurgence in coronavirus infections and deaths, some people who once rejected vaccines or simply waited too long are now grappling with the consequences, often in a harsh and public manner. A number of people speak from hospital beds, at funerals and in obituaries, of their regrets, the pain of enduring the virus and seeing unvaccinated family members die of breath.
“I have such incredible guilt,” Ms. Greene said one morning as she sat in the fourth-floor lobby outside the intensive care unit at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, which gives on the mountains where his family once hiked and quad biked. “I still blame myself. Every day.”
The recent spate of infections and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated has brought the grim realities of the Covid-19 crash home for many who believed they had bypassed the pandemic. But now, with anger and fatigue building up on all sides, the question is whether their stories can really change your mind.
Some people hospitalized with the virus still swear not to be vaccinated, and surveys suggest that a majority of unvaccinated Americans are not moving. Doctors in Covid units say some patients still refuse to believe they are infected with anything other than the flu.
“We have people in intensive care with Covid who deny having Covid,” said Dr Matthew Sperry, a pulmonary intensive care doctor who has treated Mr Greene. “It doesn’t matter what we say.”
Covid hospitalizations in Utah have increased by 35% in the past two weeks, and Dr Sperry said intensive care units in the 24-hospital system where he works are 98% full.
Yet some hospitals inundated with patients in largely conservative, unvaccinated areas of the country have started recruiting Covid survivors as public health messengers of last resort. The hope is that the skeptics of old might just persuade others who rejected the vaccination campaigns led by President Biden, Dr Anthony S. Fauci and armies of local doctors and health workers.
Their stories are Scared Straight for a pandemic that has thrived on misinformation, fear, and hardened partisan divisions over whether or not to get vaccinated.
“People create news from their hospital beds, from the wards,” said Rebecca Weintraub, assistant professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It’s the accessibility of the message: ‘I didn’t protect my own family. Let me help you protect yours.
In Springfield, Missouri, where coronavirus cases have increased this summer, Russell Taylor sat in a hospital gown, an oxygen cannula draped over his face, to offer pro-vaccine testimony in a video from the hospital. “I don’t see how I couldn’t get it now,” he said.
A man from Texas who underwent a double lung transplant after contracting the virus has pleaded on local television for others to be vaccinated.
And in a trembling voice, an administrator at a rural Utah hospital clinic described how she suffered from double pneumonia and sepsis after choosing not to be vaccinated. The woman, Stormy, said it took weeks to muster the courage to speak out in a video posted by her local health department. She did so using only her first name because she feared Covid deniers would say she was making it all up.
“I was absolutely afraid of the negative aspects that might come with it,” she said in an interview this week. “I was part of a problem I was trying to avoid.”
Some people who quickly adopted vaccines now choose to talk about family members who haven’t. It was a role Kimberle Jones never wanted, but adopted after her daughter, Erica Thompson, 37, a mother from St. Louis, died on July 4, nearly three months after had what she thought was a severe asthma attack.
“I want to be a voice for her,” said Ms Jones, who got the vaccine as soon as she was able to do so. “I really think my daughter would like me to say, ‘Go get the vaccine.’ “
It was advice Ms Thompson – like some 39 percent of American adults – ignored.
Her mother said Ms Thompson was wary of how quickly the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were deployed – the culmination of decades of scientific research. She also believed that the government-led campaign was a conspiracy against blacks like herself, according to her mother. Vaccination rates for blacks and Hispanics in America are lower than for the white population, a gap researchers attribute to mistrust rooted in a history of medical discrimination and a lack of access and awareness.
After earning $ 10 an hour in call centers, Ms Thompson had recently found a dream job as a medical coder. She went to the hospital coughing and struggling to breathe in mid-May and was on a ventilator within days. Ms Jones said she sang “Beat It” while her daughter was sedated and promised to be there when she woke up.
“Her last words to me were, ‘Mom, I can’t breathe,’” Ms. Jones said.
In Utah, Ms Greene said her husband left the family’s vaccination decisions in his hands. She had originally planned to get the vaccine as soon as her next door neighbor, a doctor, had hers.
Understanding the State of Vaccination Mandates in the United States
But she had concerns about vaccines and found plenty of reasons to hesitate when browsing social media or chatting with anti-vaccine friends. “You have to watch this,” one wrote to him.
By clicking a few links, she took her into a den of conspiracy theories touted by anti-vaccine lawyers and YouTubers, and videos in which anti-vaccine doctors and nurses decried the Covid-19 shots. as “biological weapons”.
Covid crashed into family world at the end of June when their two oldest sons brought the virus home from a religious camp where nine boys were infected. The virus swept through the family. Then came the day Mr. Greene, a hunter who crossed the mountains on foot, had to be rushed to hospital when his oxygen level creaked.
Now they are measuring the time in ‘Covid days’. Mrs. Greene wakes up dry several mornings. Her four children, aged 8 to 18, stay home as she goes to the hospital, unable to talk to their dad about dance class or punch deep in the outfield during a soccer game. baseball.
There are uncertain months ahead as doctors attempt to repair Mr Greene’s damaged lungs and wean him off a ventilator. He was briefly transferred from the hospital to an acute long-term care facility last week, a hopeful moment. But doctors found a hole in his lungs and he was rushed back to the intensive care unit.
“I will always regret having listened to the misinformation being broadcast,” Ms. Greene said. “They create fear.
Even after Mr Greene was put on a ventilator in early July, vaccine skeptics Ms Greene knew she had sent him links to disinformation about fertility and hidden vaccine deaths. They sent him boxes of horse medicine falsely presented as a cure for Covid. A business associate of her husband made a case against the vaccination as he visited Ms Greene in the intensive care lobby.
Health experts and scientific studies have shown that vaccines are extremely safe and effective and are the best weapon against new infectious variants of the coronavirus.
Before Covid, family life was anchored by their faith and community in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now church friends and neighbors are bringing home dinners and sending congregation updates about Mr. Greene.
Ms Greene begins her hospital visits with a spiritual reading and ends each night by reuniting their children – Hunter, 18; Easton, 15; Betty, 13 years old; and Rushton, 8 – to talk about their father and the prayers he needs.
Her perspective changed when the virus ravaged her husband’s body and doctors put him on a ventilator. They changed as she spoke with medics and nurses about unvaccinated patients streaming into hospitals and sitting outside the intensive care unit, listening to the rescue flight helicopters arrive. Ms Greene said she made an appointment to have her children vaccinated.
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