CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice and those responsible for the state’s response to COVID-19 have spent the past few weeks preaching the same message about the need for vaccinations, but at Monday’s briefing they left a member of the family of a COVID patient and a primary care physician speak.
At the COVID justice briefing Monday at the State Capitol Building, the governor introduced Kanawha County resident Linda Lanier, whose 40-year-old son Joe is hospitalized with COVID-19. Lanier virtually joined Monday’s briefing.
Joe was active as a mixed martial arts fighter and frequent competitor to Tough Man, but despite his good physical health, he was infected with COVID-19 in July after traveling for a competition with Lanier and her husband.
“Joey ended up with COVID, I ended up with COVID and my husband ended up with COVID,” Lanier said. “I had the vaccine. So did my husband, and we had the antibodies, and we didn’t have a problem. But Joey, on the other hand, was on a family vacation and got really sick … when he got back from his vacation, I said ‘Joey, you have to go straight to (the hospital), and you must be seen. ‘”
Lanier said her son was also supposed to join her for the governor’s briefing from the hospital, but was still too ill to participate. He was placed in an intensive care bed and placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine for five weeks to help give his lungs a break while he recovered. He has since been placed on a ventilator and kept sedated seven weeks after admission.
“Before Joey got so sick that he couldn’t speak, he told people ‘get your shot, you don’t want that stuff’,” Lanier said. “Several of his friends have been vaccinated since then.”
Lanier said her son refused the vaccination after hearing misinformation about the vaccine on social media. She, who has a background in healthcare, tried to talk to her son about the severity of COVID and the effectiveness of vaccines.
“He listened to his friends, he listened to social media and he listened to what I call the garbage that is out there,” Lanier said. “If you have any questions, see a doctor. Go see someone who knows. Let them answer your questions, because that’s where the real answers lie. This COVID is a monster. If this can bring my son down … what is it going to do to the average person? “
One of the doctors who helped treat Lanier’s son, Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo R-Kanawha, joined the court in person on Monday.
Takubo, a pulmonologist who practices in the Charleston area, said doctors have tried all kinds of treatments for COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Both drugs are approved by the FDA to treat other types of illnesses, but there is little evidence that they are effective against COVID-19. Takubo said the best way to avoid a serious infection is with vaccines.
“This is a predominantly unvaccinated pandemic,” Takubo said. “We tried a lot of things, and a lot of things didn’t work. A lot of things we were told not to do, we should have done. As we move forward and become more educated and more experienced, we have learned a lot… the only thing I see is that the vaccine is working.
According to data released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Resources, 83.6% of the 852 COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated people, with 90.3% of intensive care beds occupied by unvaccinated people. Of the 2,139 deaths from COVID since vaccinations were available, 95.4% were unvaccinated.
Takubo urged the public to avoid misinformation on social media regarding the vaccine. Takubo said some reactions, such as body aches, chills, and pain at the injection site, are normal.
“One of the concerns that a lot of people say is, ‘I don’t want to take the vaccine because there is a potential for some side effects that can occur,” ”said Takubo. “Show me a hospital overrun with vaccine wounds. I have yet to admit a person injured by the vaccine.
“When you get the vaccine, there is a difference between an adverse reaction and a side effect,” Takubo continued. “If you get the vaccine and you have aches, chills and pain in your arm, it lets you know the vaccine worked. In fact, I would be almost a little more worried if I had no reaction to the vaccine.
Justice said he hopes Lanier and Takubo’s messages will help eliminate the misinformation mess and motivate West Virginia to get vaccinated.
“Why the hell can’t we just listen… why can’t we just get vaccinated on a voluntary basis? Demanded justice. “What we hope and pray is that we get such a high percentage of people who have stepped up and been vaccinated that we can stop this thing. We can stop this dreaded killer.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]