Religion, Freedom, Worry: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics

Which trustworthy person will speak for the vaccine? Eva Fields?

She is a nurse who treated one of the first on-site patients to die of Covid. She grew up in Greeneville and has 24 relatives who had the virus.

When she asks patients if they are going to be vaccinated, about half say, “No, and I won’t.” Assuming she’s going to be angry, they add, “I’m so sorry if this upsets you!”

Miss Fields replies, “That’s fine, honey. I don’t intend to. “

Her gut tells her to believe a video sent to her by someone from a far-right misinformation group jokingly said studies showed vaccines cause plaque in the brain.

Like others here, she is suspicious of Bill Gates’ involvement in vaccine development. One evening over dinner, Dr. Theo Hensley, a vaccine advocate in her office: “I don’t know Bill Gates, but I know Dolly gave Parton a million dollars.” (Ms. Parton is Northeast Tennessee’s favorite daughter.)

“Well, she’s probably fine,” admitted Miss Fields.

“When someone pushes something really hard, I sit back because I don’t like people telling me, ‘You have to do this,” said Miss Fields. Repeating to many others, she added, “I have to do my own research . “

At the moment she is not pushing or discouraging patients to get the vaccine.

The day the Fletchers, the retired couple, met their family doctor, Dr. Daniel Lewis, speaking about the vaccine, marked the one year anniversary of the day he was put on a ventilator with a severe case of Covid.

Dr. Lewis, 43, stayed in the hospital for over a month. He was so seriously ill that he recorded farewell messages for his five children.

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