Kansas City man hopes story of father’s death will help COVID-19 vaccine efforts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vaccine hesitancy, according to public health experts, remains one of the biggest challenges in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

That’s why Tom Martin wants to share about the devastating loss of his father.

“I know people are very comfortable saying, I can beat this if I get it and that’s going to be OK, and if that’s your belief, I just want to let you know, I know someone. I thought he could beat it and he didn’t beat it,” Martin said.

Martin says his father, Earle Plain Martin III, was a healthy and active 65-year-old with no pre-existing conditions.

From the time his father was admitted into the hospital on December 24, he would live only a week longer. He died December 31.

“We get a call, fairly quickly into him being hospitalized saying, he’s probably not going to make it,” Martin said. “We didn’t get to go to the hospital, we had to talk to him over an iPad. He was unconscious, but he could hear us.”

It has taken Martin months to share his family’s story hoping to inspire at least one person to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

At the time of his father’s death, the vaccine was not available.

“I think it’s really hard to, when you’re talking about vaccines, to put yourself into the position until you’re there. So I’m trying to put people in that position, in a relatable way, if I can,” Martin said.  “It’s easy to feel like it’s not going to knock on your door, and I never thought it would knock on my door.”

Martin has taken his message to social media, posting a video to his Twitter that has been viewed thousands of times.

Martin said he’s no expert, but says the narrative needs to be changed to have more empathy and most importantly, trust.

“I encourage people to keep it simple with the vaccine. We are past political agenda. The Democrats and Republicans both encouraging people to get it. I know politics informs a lot these days, I think we’re past that. Let’s just keep it simple. It’s about the best way to keep people safe. Right now, statistically this is the best thing you can do,” Martin said.

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