Mark Green took deep breaths from an oxygen mask as he spoke with the Indianapolis Star from the hospital room where he was battling COVID-19 on Sept. 24. "Maybe if I'd had the vaccine … I'd have came in, maybe been here two or three days, got some meds, went home, been good to go," said the 58-year-old resident of New Palestine, Ind. "Now I'm looking at probably two or three months sitting around on oxygen trying to get better." Even that turned out to be a hopeful scenario. Green, who had already spent 11 days in the hospital at the time of his interview, died a week and a half later on Oct. 1, the Star reports.
He'd called a newspaper videographer to his room in the hope of inspiring others to get vaccinated. Though he had a lung condition, he said he feared unknown side effects of the vaccine down the road. He'd been caring for his 88-year-old mother, who was sick with COVID-19, before falling ill about a month ago. "Once I got sick, I kind of realized, it didn't matter what happens down the road. It matters what happens now," he said. "This is terrible." But "you get the vaccine, it's going to make you healthy, keep you healthy and not let this happen to you."
Despite many pleas from health officials and patients like Green, vaccine hesitancy remains widespread in the US. Fewer than 56% of Hoosiers are fully vaccinated. The Star reported that even as Green fought for his life, his wife still held doubts about the vaccine. Green's doctor, Robert Klinestiver, had urged his patient to get vaccinated in July. He next saw Green in a hospital's critical care unit. As Klinestiver told the Star in September, "it's so hard to watch a person in their prime of their lives die." Green is survived by his mother, wife, five children, and 11 grandchildren, with "one more due in November," according to his obituary. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)