Louisiana mother holds vaccine drive at funeral for son who died of COVID-19

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Brandon Antoine (pictured), 46, died of COVID-19 despite his mothers urges for him to get vaccinated

Brandon Antoine (pictured), 46, died of COVID-19 despite his mothers urges for him to get vaccinated

A Louisiana mother held a vaccine drive at the funeral of her son who died of COVID-19 after refusing to get vaccinated.

Brandon Antoine passed away from the virus aged 46 in Baton Rouge on June 9. 

His mother, Betty Antoine, begged him to get the vaccine before he contracted the virus, though he refused.

Now she is hoping other families do not go through the same tragedy, and used her son’s funeral as an opportunity to get others in her community vaccinated.

‘I begged him, 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,” Antoine told CBS News

‘His doctor wanted him to take the vaccine. He told her no,’ she continued. 

She said her son had underlying heart and lung issues that gave him an increased risk of complications from the virus.

‘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,’ she said. 

‘And I said, right then I’m going to ask his friends and everybody to take that vaccine in honor of him.’ 

She gave attendees at Brandon’s funeral the opportunity to get vaccinated, hoping that others could learn from her son’s mistake.

Betty Antoine (pictured), urged her son, Brandon, to get vaccinated before he died of the virus

Betty Antoine (pictured), urged her son, Brandon, to get vaccinated before he eventually died from the virus

Of the attendees, 13 decided to get vaccinated.

‘I just wanted them to see Brandon’s ashes. I wanted them to know, look, Brandon is dead because he did not take the vaccine,’ she continued.

Louisiana is among the states with the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and is currently dealing with a massive COVID-19 surge.

Only 40 percent of residents of the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and only 36 percent are fully vaccinated.

Mississippi is the only state with a lower vaccination rate at 38 percent. 

Coronavirus cases in the state are also trending in the wrong direction, rising 224 percent in the past two weeks from 619 per day on July 7 to 2,006 per day on July 21.

Hospitalizations are also at their highest since February, with 844 people currently in the hospital with the virus.

Around 70 percent of active cases in the state are of the Delta variant, a highly contagious strain that originated in India.

Health officials in the state are urging residents to get the shots to protect themselves from the virus.

Notable Republican politicians are joining the effort as well. 

Rep Steve Scalise, one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress who represents Louisiana’s 1st district, received the first shot of his COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week.

‘Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,’ Scalise told NOLA.com.

‘When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90 percent of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.’

Antoine is hoping that other families will not suffer the same situation that hers did, and used her son's funeral as a vaccination drive

Antoine is hoping that other families will not suffer the same situation that hers did, and used her son’s funeral as a vaccination drive

Roe said he was aware of Rep Scalise, but denied that the vaccines are proven effective, and said his opinion is unchanged.

Medical professionals are advising Louisianan’s to get the shots as well, as a vast majority of people being admitted into the hospital with the virus are unvaccinated.

‘I want to be clear after seeing what I’ve seen the past two weeks. We only have two choices: we are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic. Or we are going to accept death.’ said Dr Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, during a press conference Friday per a report from The Advocate.

‘A lot of it, this surge, and another surge, and possibly another variant.’ 

Across the country, cases are spiking as well.

Over the past two weeks, cases have nearly tripled, growing from 16,181 average new cases on July 8 to 45,343 on July 22 – a 180 percent increase. 

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