Monday, January 24

The pain of losing family members who doubted the covid-19 vaccine

(CNN) — Mike Lewis Jr. was on a call with the doctor last month when he heard the sudden, frantic beep from the machines. His father, also named Mike Lewis, was being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The doctor called to say that earlier, Lewis’s heart had stopped, but they revived him and put him on a ventilator.

During that call, however, her heart stopped again. Lewis Jr. described hearing a chaotic scene in the background before the doctor quickly hung up.

“The panic started,” Lewis, Jr. said, recalling the horrible moment. “The tears were unstoppable.”

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Half an hour later, the doctor called again with the devastating news. Mike Lewis, a towering man known as a protector and the life of the party at any celebration, had died at 58, just four days after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Lewis Jr., 37, is now one of thousands of people facing the painful loss of a loved one who did not receive the covid-19 vaccine at a time when they are available. Like many, his father juggled various jobs and, as his son said, he did not make vaccination a top priority.

“I lost a part of myself,” said Lewis Jr.

The older Lewis, who was known as “Big Mike” among friends, exercised and drank protein shakes every day before heading to his job as head of security at the Floridian Social Club in St. Petersburg, where he had worked for 30 years. .

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis Jr. says neither he nor his father had prioritized vaccination. His father’s death last month, he says, changed his perspective.

It was an icon in the nightlife of the city. His son said people went to the club just to talk to Lewis outside and hear his stories. On “teen” nights, Lewis required proof that students had completed their homework before allowing them to enter.

His son had also postponed the covid_19 vaccine, feeling nervous about the unknown. But he described his father’s death as a wake-up call and he and his wife are now on appointments to get the vaccine.

“You have to do whatever it takes to make sure you get ahead in these times,” he said. “Because my dad left.”

Strategies to boost vaccination

Even though vaccines are widely available for teens and adults, demand has slowed dramatically since mid-April. At that time, the country administered an average of 3.4 million doses per day.

That moving average is now near 600,000 a day – as of Tuesday, the most recent day for which the figure is available – according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Local governments offer financial incentives for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Medical experts and officials are also seeing effective strategies from local pastors, trainers, and community leaders working at the grassroots level to encourage people.

The word-of-mouth approach from trusted voices can be powerful, said the Rev. RB Holmes Jr., a prominent pastor who leads Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. In the spring, his church invested in a mobile medical unit to make health care more accessible in his community.

Last week they held an event not only for spiritual healing but to combat vaccinations. The nurses were on site with the mobile unit to administer the injections.

“We have to tell people the truth, that they have two options: get the vaccine or risk COVID-19,” Holmes said.

On stage, standing under a blue and white striped tent, Holmes tried to address the political divide that has defined much of the pandemic.

Rev. RB Holmes Jr. speaks at a tent revival hosted by his church, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, in Tallahassee, Florida, where they are also offering vaccinations.

This is not a disease of the Democrats. This is not a Republican disease, ”said Holmes, wiping his head in the 32-degree heat. This is a virus.

“If we can get enough people vaccinated, we’ll be fine,” he commented, nodding his head and mentioning “amen” from the crowd.

Holmes told CNN that if they could vaccinate even just five or 10 people during the campaign, they would consider it a great success. “Because we can say we saved lives, and now they’re going to come in and hug Grandma, go to Florida State football games, basketball games and go back to church.”

In the four-day revival, the church vaccinated 18 people against Covid-19.

He regrets having waited for the covid-19 vaccine

The reasons why people hesitate to get vaccinated vary widely. In Pasadena, Maryland, Michele Preissler’s husband, Darryl, planned to get the vaccine eventually. But he was nervous about the impact it would have on his body, given the immunosuppressant medication he was taking for arthritis.

The 63-year-old construction contractor, nature lover and beloved grandfather, went to a wedding in April and began to feel ill a week later. Within days, he was admitted and would spend about a month in the hospital before losing his battle with covid-19 on May 22.

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Michele Preissler described the month-long illness as a “roller coaster of hell”, with several times when Darryl’s condition improved, only to deteriorate again. Eventually he had a major stroke and life support was removed.

Michele was told that she would live three to five minutes without the machines, but ended up living, albeit unconscious, for almost 24 hours. His heart just kept beating.

“I would not like to experience that again,” he said, referring to his general fight against the virus. And I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

While Michele, who works in the medical field, received her vaccination in March, she said her husband was busy with work and regrets not making an appointment for him. He wouldn’t stop to do it himself. I was going to have to. Now I’m angry that I didn’t. And I can’t change that.

Michele and Darryl Preissler were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this year and were making retirement plans.

The couple were to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary later this year and were looking forward to retirement plans, especially to travel with their new camper.

Michele began to cry as she read handwritten messages in her funeral book. “I don’t have a normal now,” he assured, looking at the pages. “My normality is gone.”

The warning from a survivor who did not receive the vaccine

Josh Garza, 43, may have been one of the first Americans eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. He’s a diabetic and battles high blood pressure, and those underlying conditions would have placed him near the top of the eligibility list.

Garza believed that following all health protocols would keep him safe. He says he scrapped the idea of ​​getting vaccinated right away and never gave the COVID-19 vaccine a chance.

“I didn’t want to be the guinea pig,” Garza said. “I just objected to it.”

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But earlier this year, Garza was diagnosed with Covid-19 and the virus quickly took over his body. Garza would spend four months in Houston Methodist Hospital fighting for his life.

Doctors say Garza developed COVID-19 pneumonia and the virus triggered severe inflammation that caused irreversible damage to lung tissue. But his case was so serious that not even a ventilator or high-flow oxygen machines could help him.

On X-rays, Garza’s lungs were barely visible, hidden by the cloudy image that reflected the virus infecting his chest. Garza says he was days away from dying until he was able to receive a double lung transplant in April.

Josh Garza says the vaccine would have spared him the ordeal of a long hospital stay, where he was on the brink of death.

The memory of horror

Garza says he struggles with his own anger at not getting vaccinated, but is also grateful to be alive to tell his story to others.

The memory of seeing the corpses of covid-19 patients passing through their hospital room is still present in Garza’s mind. “If I could do it all over again, I would do it,” Garza said, referring to the vaccine. “Undoubtedly. What I went through is probably the worst I’ve ever seen.

Garza is now recovering from the lung transplant operation and says he feels much better. He has met at home with his family and said he hopes his experience will convince others who oppose vaccination to change their minds.

Think of your family. Because what I went through, he also had to pass to my family, “said Garza. “I wish people would at least reconsider, or at least listen to what we went through, and I hope you never have to go through that, ever.”

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