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After vaccine-hesitant son died of COVID, his mother holds vaccine drive at his memorial

Brandon Haynes was advised to get vaccinated but refused. He tested positive for COVID last month and died six days later.

After vaccine-hesitant son died of COVID, his mother holds vaccine drive at his memorial
Image Source: YouTube/10 Tampa Bay

The pandemic is still far from over. There are still deaths that occur every day. But it was found that the majority of these deaths are of those who were not vaccinated. According to NPR, more than 99 percent of recent deaths and 97 percent of hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated. "Unvaccinated Americans account for virtually all recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths," Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator stated. "Each COVID-19 death is tragic, and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable." One such death that could have been prevented was that of Brandon Haynes.


Haynes' mother Betty Antoine had begged her son to get vaccinated but he refused to do so. "I said, 'You need to take the vaccine, Brandon.' 'Oh, no, mom, I'm not going to take it. And you better not take the vaccine either,'" she told CBS News. When the 46-year-old spoke to his doctor, he was advised to get vaccinated. He did not listen to the medical professional either. He explained to his worried mother as well as his concerned friends that he had done his research and wanted to wait. But while trying to convince his friends, he left out important information about the underlying health conditions he had. "He had a bad heart. He had lung problems, COPD," his mother revealed.


Haynes tested positive for COVID and died six days later on June 9. "First of all, I was so full with... I want to say angry. I was kind of angry, not so much at him, but because he did not take the vaccine," Antoine recalled. "And I said, right then I'm going to ask his friends and everybody to take that vaccine in honor of him." So at his funeral service, she arranged for vaccines to be administered. She spoke to a friend of hers who worked at the hospital in Baton Rouge to host a vaccine drive at the memorial, reported CNN. On the day of the funeral, three people got their shots.


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,'" she said. After the three people got the vaccination, more people followed suit. "So they're going now. They're going to take the vaccine because Brandon died from the virus," she noted and added, "I think if Brandon knew that his death would affect me so, he would have taken the vaccine. But you know, that's hindsight. 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 has had to use her son's death to set an example for those who refuse to take the vaccine. "I just wanted them to see Brandon's ashes," she said." I wanted them to know, look, Brandon is dead because he did not take the vaccine." The heartbroken mother hopes more people will get vaccinated. She 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."


Experts have predicted that these preventable deaths will continue, especially among the unvaccinated people as the nation is experiencing outbreaks in the fall and winter. “Those are all somebody’s parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends,” said Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, who helps lead a vaccination outreach program in King County told The Associated Press. “It’s still a lot of deaths, and they’re preventable deaths.”

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