After losing six family members within three weeks due to COVID-19 and related complications, Florida-based vaccine advocate Lisa Wilson continues to encourage her community to get vaccinated against the virus so their families don’t suffer a similar fate.
As an aid to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and the wife of Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, Lisa has been going door-to-door combating vaccine skepticism for the past several months.
“I work side by side with the communities and constantly push the message to get people vaccinated,” Wilson told CNN, “but I couldn’t convince my family members to get vaccinated.”
Her family’s unfortunate series of events all began in August when Lisa got a call that her 48-year-old uncle, Tyrone Moreland, was ill.
“He was feeling so bad. He wasn’t eating, and he was coughing a lot,” she explained. After his health deteriorated and he was taken to the hospital, the family was told there were no beds available in the ICU. “We were checking other hospitals and there was not a single bed available in Palm Beach County. They had to transport him to a hospital an hour and a half away.”
Shortly after her uncle was hospitalized, Lisa’s grandmother was hospitalized too after being diagnosed with COVID and suffering from pneumonia. Tragically, after her uncle died and was buried, her 89-year-old grandmother and one of her cousins also lost their lives to the virus.
“First my uncle died, then my grandmother died and the day after her death, my cousin died,” Wilson shared.
When speaking with local news source WPTV, she described her grandmother as “the rock” of their family.
Within those three weeks, Lisa additionally lost three other cousins to COVID — all of whom she noted were unvaccinated. According to her, fear and misinformation about COVID-19 and its vaccines played significant roles in her family members’ decisions not to get vaccinated.
“They were just scared,” she told CNN. “Everything was new, and they were just scared.”
Emphasizing that she wouldn’t wish her remaining family’s grief on anyone else and the importance of protecting yourself and others by getting vaccinated, she additionally said, “If my family was vaccinated, they would be here today.” When speaking with WPTV, she added, “My family that was dying on their death bed, they also wanted me to let people know to get vaccinated.”
Lisa hopes that her family’s story will encourage those who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated to reassess the severe consequences that they and their families might face if they don’t. She continues to educate people on why they should become fully vaccinated and shared that she’s convinced ten unvaccinated family members to get their shots.
“We are at a critical time,” Lisa emphasized to CNN. “People are dying.”