By Rebekah Riess, CNN
(CNN) — After a Louisiana man who declined to be vaccinated died of Covid-19, his mother organized a vaccine drive at his memorial to help prevent the same outcome befalling other family and friends.
Betty Antoine wanted to encourage people to get inoculated after her son, 46-year-old Baton Rouge resident Brandon Haynes, refused the vaccine and died on June 9.
According to Antoine, her son had argued there was not enough research done on the vaccine. Her son had heart issues, lung problems, and COPD, she said, and had been told by his doctor that he needed to be vaccinated.
“And he loved his doctor to death, but he told her no, he wasn’t going to take it,” Antoine told CNN.
For her son’s memorial service, Antoine requested that family members and friends who had not been vaccinated do so in honor of Haynes.
She said she asked a friend who administered vaccines for a hospital in Baton Rouge to host a vaccine drive at the memorial. Three people were vaccinated that day, and she has since received calls from friends telling her they have gone to get their shots as well.
Antoine said her son had a large influence over his friends. “So when he was against the vaccine, they all did not take the vaccine, because Brandon said, ‘Don’t take the vaccine,'” Antoine said.
“So they’re going now. They’re going to take the vaccine, because Brandon died from the virus,” she said.
“I think if Brandon knew that his death would affect me so, he would have taken the vaccine. But you know, that’s hindsight,” Antoine said. “I’m very hurt about it, but I’m not angry with him, because he was a very very bright, brilliant young man and his mind was made up.”
Antoine said her son even told her not to get vaccinated, but she did because she had had lung cancer. “So he should have taken it, really he should have been one of the first,” she added.
Antoine said Haynes was hospitalized for breathing problems on June 3, and passed away the morning of June 9.
“One of the doctors walked in while I was coming in and he said ‘Mr. Haynes, you tested positive for Covid.’ I almost fainted, because I knew, I knew the chances of his survival were very slim,” Antoine said.
“I just want people to know it can happen to you. I never thought that it would never happen to me, but it can happen to you. And once you lose a loved one, for a reason that he could have been saved. It really hurts,” she said.
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