Two of the three publicly changed their stance before passing away
“Bogus,” Dick Farrel called Covid vaccines. “Promoted by people that lied.”
“I’m not taking it, are you kidding me? Mr Anti-Vax?’ said Marc Bernier.
“If you’re not at high risk of dying from Covid then you’re probably safer not getting it,” said Phil Valentine.
All three men, influential conservative radio hosts well known for their vaccine scepticism, went on to die of Covid within a year of their comments, and within just a month of each other.
Their deaths were, for many, a tragic reminder of the realities of Covid – and the serious dangers of the misinformation surrounding it.
By the time they died, two of the three, experiencing the ravages of the virus firsthand, had publicly changed their stance on the vaccine.
Mr Valentine, who passed away August 21, expressed regret to his brother that “a lot of people didn’t get the vaccine because I didn’t.”
While Mr Valentine was still battling the virus in hospital, his brother Mark made it his mission to spread his brother’s new pro-vaccine message, telling wbur.org:
“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 said. “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.”
Mr Farrel also had a change of heart, according to his friend Amy Leigh Hair. She posted on Facebook on August 4: “RIP Dick Farrel. He is the reason I took the shot! He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me that this virus is no joke and he said: ‘I wish I had gotten it!’”
Despite high profile deaths such as those of the three radio hosts, plus the Covid fatality rate rising in 14 states this week, anti-vax messaging remains widespread.
A July 16 report released by Media Matters, said that in the two weeks between June 28 to July 11, “Fox News aired 129 segments about coronavirus vaccines. Of those, 57% included claims that either undermined or downplayed immunization efforts.”
Meanwhile vaccine ‘alternatives’ such as the horse dewormer ivermectin continue to be touted as viable treatments, despite explicit FDA advice to the contrary.
Republican congressman Louie Gohmert, said on Friday: “I don’t know if y’all saw, but a month after President Trump left office, The American Journal of Medicine came out with a great article that they had discovered a regimen of medication that when taken together early in Covid that – you may have heard of it: hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, a Z-Pak azithromycin, zinc.”
None of those substances have been proven effective against the coronavirus in clinical trials.
CNN radio host Dean Obeidallah, said Mr Valentine’s death should be a reason for others to stop spreading false information about the virus.
“I sincerely was rooting for him to recover, as a fellow radio host and human being. I hoped that if Phil followed through on his promise to encourage his conservative listeners to get vaccinated, it could have saved countless lives. The question now, though, is: Will other conservative media outlets, from Fox News to local radio hosts, honor Valentine’s memory by finally stopping spewing misinformation about the vaccine?”