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After surviving COVID-19, a 71-year-old 'strong conservative' is getting vaccinated. But he's losing friends.

71-year-old Jim Sells found all his information about COVID-19 and its vaccine on social media. After contracting the disease, he is now hoping others use more trusted sources.

After surviving COVID-19, a 71-year-old 'strong conservative' is getting vaccinated. But he's losing friends.
Image Source: Vaccination Clinic Administers Booster Shots In California. SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 01. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Jim Sells, aged 71, describes himself as a "strong conservative" who spends a lot of time on social media. When the pandemic first hit the United States, he leveraged his online network in order to form his ideas about the then-novel coronavirus and what its potential risks could be. He and his friends did not believe that addressing the pandemic was especially urgent. Through social media, he also came to the conclusion that he did not need to get vaccinated against the virus. He claims this is what left him "totally unprepared" when he fell ill with a severe case of COVID-19. Now, he is getting vaccinated, but he is losing most of his fellow conservative friends, CNN reports.


The 71-year-old caught the virus when he flew from Georgia, where he lives, to attend an air show in Wisconsin in late July. He shared, "My last post before I disappeared was that event, and I posted, 'I'm with 500,000 people, hardly a single mask, and it smells like freedom.'" Then, three days following the show, Sells had a fever and felt extremely fatigued. Even though his fever lifted a few days later, he still felt exhausted. He thought he could increase his vitamin intake to feel better, but it did not help. That was when he scheduled a teleconsultation. Following a COVID-19 test, Sells learned he was positive.


He later spoke with a friend who suggested he go to the hospital so as to get a breathing treatment. The senior did not recognize how grave his situation had become. He said that the doctor told him they did not know at the time if they could help him, although they were going to do everything they possibly could. Sells recalled, "They put an oxygen mask on and cinched it down real tight. They started putting the heart monitors on me and then asked me if I wanted to be resuscitated. And I'm in total shock."


As per what he had seen online, he had never thought he would have to become hospitalized even if he did catch the virus. "Social media is full of this information to address your agenda. The algorithm sends just what you want to hear right to you," Sells explained. "And I was filled with this information." Now, he is getting vaccinated—but losing friends. He asserted, "They don't know what I now know. We've got to get the word out so that we can get our hospitals back and slow down the rate of deaths. We really need the world to know the truth and the consequences of not being vaccinated. I don't want anybody to go through what I went through."


Since the pandemic first began, health officials have expressed concerns about misinformation regarding COVID-19. Much of the vaccine hesitancy problem can be traced back to misinformation. This is especially alarming as vaccines have become available to children aged five to 11. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stated in an interview with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta at the Citizen by CNN event on Thursday, "We have to guard against that misinformation. I want parents to know that their questions are important. But it's important that they also go to credible sources to get answers to those questions, like their doctor, their children's hospital, their local department of health or the CDC."


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