Greenville barber Billy Steele put off getting vaccinated.
Steele said he never doubted COVID-19, but believed that he would be able to fight it off well if he got it.
Steele, who has been cutting hair in Greenville for 46 years, also hosts a two-hour live show on 105.5 FM with one of his friends. He and his co-host, Wendell Miller, have been doing the show for 15 years.
Miller got the vaccine three months ago, and begged Steele to do the same.
“I thought my immune system was stronger than it actually is,” Steele said.
Steele, his wife, and 10 other members of his family were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being tested on July 4. Steele ended up in the ICU for 48 hours with low oxygen levels and double pneumonia.
“It was a horrifying, nightmarish experience,” Steele said.
He said his first thought when he was admitted into the hospital was that he wished he had gotten vaccinated.
“I kept procrastinating,” Steele said. “I wasn’t taking things as seriously as I should’ve.”
Steele now actively promotes the vaccine on his radio show. He said some people have gotten angry at this, but that he feels it is right to spread the word about it.
He said this was the worst illness he has ever had and his first time in the hospital.
Steele said he believes in science and trusts that the vaccine is safe.
“All of these illnesses that I grew up being threatened with no longer exist,” Steele said. “We’ve had incredible luck ending illnesses and diseases with vaccines.”
He believes that medical officials need to crack down on vaccine misinformation that is spread on social media.
“The medical world needs to come together and expose this false information,” Steele said.
Steele has recovered from his illness and will be able to get the vaccine in October. He said he is eagerly waiting to be eligible.
“I feel like a million bucks now,” Steele said.
Currently, 43% of Muhlenberg County’s residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Their positivity rate is climbing above 15%.
Steele said it is as important as ever to get vaccinated because of the spikes the U.S. has seen from the Delta variant.
“Obviously, we’re not doing what’s right,” Steele said.