Conservative Talk Show Host Battling COVID-19 Regrets Disseminating Vaccine Skepticism
Nashville radio talk show host Phil Valentine remains hospitalized in critical condition with COVID-19 more than two weeks after being admitted for the disease.
Valentine — who broadcasts on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN — was known for his COVID-19 vaccine skepticism.
“What are my odds of getting COVID? They’re pretty low,” he wrote on his blog. “What are my odds of dying from COVID if I do get it? Probably way less than 1%.”
He added: “I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m just using common sense.”
Now Phil Valentine wants people to know that he was wrong — and that he should have taken the vaccine. He wants others to reconsider their thoughts on vaccines.
Because Phil Valentine is struggling to breathe, Mark Valentine has been speaking on his brother’s behalf. Workers often reposition the radio host, who is still “extremely sick,” so fluid doesn’t collect in his lungs, Mark Valentine says.
“We’re in for the long haul, it looks like. It’s just a bad time,” his brother says, “and he wishes he could do it over.”
The 61-year-old believed he was in a group that didn’t need the vaccine. But the virus doesn’t discriminate: Young and healthy people can still get sick and end up in the hospital from the disease.
The radio host believed he would be back at his job within a few days of first getting the virus. Instead, he was “very close to death at several points” when his oxygen levels dropped, his brother says. While Phil Valentine has been communicative, health care workers have encouraged him to sleep as much as possible to save strength, Mark Valentine says.
“A lot of people didn’t get the vaccine because I didn’t get the vaccine,” the radio talk show host told his brother. Now Mark Valentine is on a mission to spread Phil Valentine’s new view on COVID-19 vaccines.
“That’s my purpose for being here today, is to take the message that he’s unable to take, and that is: Take politics out of it. It’s time for us to get together and fight this thing collectively,” he says. “Just put all the conspiracies and microchips and all that business aside and go get vaccinated and don’t put your family through what his wife and the rest of us are going through.”
Mark Valentine understands there’s a chance his brother could die. And while he can’t change what’s already happened to his loved one, he says Phil Valentine’s message has inspired others to get the shot.
Mark Valentine says he’s heard from dozens of Phil Valentine’s listeners who say they received the vaccine because of his brother’s dire situation — including Mark Valentine himself. He went to Wal-Mart and got inoculated after seeing what his brother was going through.
Americans can disagree on a lot of issues, Mark Valentine says, but politics aside, his family firmly believes that vaccines can save lives. When Phil Valentine is back on air, Mark Valentine says his brother will double down on that message.
“Phil will be the most pro-vaccine person you’ve ever seen as soon as he’s able to be,” he says.
Karyn Miller-Medzon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Chris Bentley. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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