Some Covid Vaccine Hesitant Now Express Regret

The Four Percent


PROVO, Utah — As Mindy Greene spent another day in the Covid intensive care unit, listening to the whirring machines that now breathed for her 42-year-old husband, Russ, she opened her phone and tapped out a message.

“We did not get 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 got the impression that we would be ok.”

They were not.

Her husband, the father to their four children, was now hovering between life and death, tentacles of tubes spilling from his body. The patient in the room next to her husband’s had died 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 over vaccination: the remorseful.

“If I had the information I have today, we would have gotten vaccinated,” Ms. Greene wrote. Come what may, she hit “send.”

Amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections and deaths, some people who once rejected the vaccines or simply waited too long are now grappling with the consequences, often in raw, public ways. A number are speaking from hospital beds, at funerals and in obituaries about their regrets, about the pain of enduring the virus and watching unvaccinated family members die gasping for breath.

“I have such incredible guilt,” Ms. Greene said one morning as she sat in the fourth-floor lobby outside the I.C.U. at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, which looks out to the mountains where her family once went hiking and four-wheeling. “I blame myself still. Every day.”

The recent surge of infections and hospitalizations among unvaccinated people has brought the grim realities of Covid-19 crashing home for many who thought they had skirted the pandemic. But now, with anger and fatigue piled up on all sides, the question is whether their stories can actually change any minds.

Some people hospitalized with the virus still vow not to get vaccinated, and surveys suggest that a majority of unvaccinated Americans are not budging. Doctors in Covid units say some patients still refuse to believe they are infected with anything beyond the flu.

After scraping by making $10 an hour at call-center jobs, Ms. Thompson had recently found a dream job doing medical coding. 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” as her daughter was sedated and promised to be there when she woke.

“Her last words to me were, ‘Mama, I can’t breathe,’” Ms. Jones said.

In Utah, Ms. Greene said her husband had left the family’s vaccination decisions in her hands. She initially planned to get the shot as soon as her next-door neighbor, a physician, got his.

But she had concerns about the vaccines, and found plenty of reasons to hesitate when she scrolled through social media or talked with anti-vaccine friends. “You need to watch this,” one wrote to her.

Clicking on a few links took her down a rabbit hole 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 “bioweapons.”

Covid crashed into the family’s world in late June when their two oldest sons brought the virus home from a church camp where nine boys got infected. The virus swept through the family. Then came the day that Mr. Greene, a hunter who hiked across mountains, had to be rushed to the hospital when his oxygen levels cratered.

Now, they measure time in “Covid days.” Ms. Greene wakes up dry heaving many mornings. Her four children — ages 8 to 18 — stay home while she visits the hospital, unable to tell their dad about dance class or smashing a hit deep into the outfield during a baseball game.

There are uncertain months ahead as doctors try to repair Mr. Greene’s damaged lungs and wean him off a ventilator. He was briefly transferred from the hospital to a long-term acute care center last week, a hopeful moment. But doctors found a hole in his lungs, and he was rushed back into the intensive care unit.

“I will always regret that I listened to the misinformation being put out there,” Ms. Greene said. “They’re creating fear.”

Even after Mr. Greene was put on a ventilator in early July, vaccine skeptics Ms. Greene knew texted her links to misinformation about fertility and hidden vaccine deaths. They sent her boxes of a horse medicine falsely touted as a Covid cure. A business associate of her husband made the case against vaccination while he visited Ms. Greene in the I.C.U. lobby.

Health experts and scientific studies have shown the vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective and are the best weapon against infectious new variants of the coronavirus.

Before Covid, the family’s life was anchored by their faith and community in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, church friends and neighbors bring dinners by the house and send updates to the congregation about Mr. Greene.

Ms. Greene begins her hospital visits with a spiritual reading and ends each night by gathering their children — Hunter, 18; Easton, 15; Betty, 13; and Rushton, 8 — to talk about their father and the prayers he needs.

Her views shifted as the virus ravaged her husband’s body and doctors put him on a ventilator. They shifted as she talked with doctors and nurses about the unvaccinated patients pouring into hospitals and sat outside the I.C.U., listening to life-flight helicopters arrive. Ms. Greene said she had made an appointment to get her children vaccinated.


Source link Most Shared

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.