After losing her son to Covid-19, one Louisiana mother is hoping to spare others the heartbreak she’s experienced. Betty Antoine hosted a Covid-19 vaccine drive at her son’s funeral, urging those who, like her son, had initially turned down the vaccine to reconsider their decision. Antoine’s 46-year-old son Brandon Haynes died of Covid-19 on June 9.
In the months before his death, Antoine urged her son, who had a number of underlying health conditions putting him at high risk of serious illness, to get a Covid-19 vaccine. “I begged him. I said, ‘You need to take the vaccine, Brandon,’” Antoine told CBS News. “[He said,] ‘Oh no, mom, I’m not going to take it.’”
According to Antoine, Haynes felt there hadn’t been enough research done on the vaccine. He wanted to wait. Not even Brandon’s doctor could convince him to get vaccinated, Antoine told CNN.
After being hospitalized for breathing problems on June 3, Haynes tested positive for Covid-19. “I almost fainted, because I knew, I knew the chances of his survival were very slim," Antoine told CNN.
Six days after testing positive for the virus, Haynes passed away. Standing at his bedside, Antoine told CBS News she’d felt a sense of purpose. “I said right then I'm going to ask his friends and everybody to take that vaccine in honor of him,” she told the outlet. “I just wanted them to see Brandon's ashes. I wanted them to know, look, Brandon is dead because he did not take the vaccine.”
According to CNN, Antoine reached out to a friend who’d been administering vaccines for a Baton Rouge hospital. Together, with the hospital's help, they organized a vaccine drive at Haynes’ funeral.
“Before the memorial service about 10 of his friends took the vaccine,” Antoine said in an interview with News Nation. “They sent their [vaccine] cards to me through text or whatever and then we had three take it at the service.”
In all, Antoine’s outreach and Haynes tragic death inspired more than a dozen people to get vaccinated. “I just want people to know it can happen to you,” Antoine told CNN. “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.”
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.