Fla. vaccine advocate loses 6 unvaccinated family members to COVID-19 in 3 weeks

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:30 AM EDT
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BELLE GLADE, Fla. (WPTV) – For the past three weeks, Lisa Wilson has been in and out of the Butts Memorial Chapel funeral home in Belle Glade.

Wilson, an aide to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, spoke earlier this week about her experience while sitting inside the funeral home with her husband and her brother, where they were planning another memorial service.

“It started with my uncle Tyrone,” she said.

Wilson said her family’s nightmare began three weeks ago, when her 48-year-old uncle Tyrone Moreland was taken to the hospital. He died shortly after from COVID-19.

“Then my grandmother, she was hospitalized also,” Wilson said.

Wilson adored and admired her grandmother.

“She was the rock of the family,” she said. “I was with her from birth. From when I was born, I was with my grandmother, so I just bonded with her.”

Her grandmother’s porch was a place to gather.

“People would stop by just to chat with her, younger people, older people,” Wilson said.

But 89-year-old Lillie Mae Dukes Moreland died two days after her son, Tyrone, was buried.

One of Wilson’s cousins died soon after.

“It’s just so unreal,” she said.

Then, Wilson lost three more cousins, all from the coronavirus. All of Wilson’s relatives who died were unvaccinated.

“You can’t grieve the death of one because then the next day or two, somebody else has passed away,” she said. “So it’s been really, really, really hard to comprehend and try to figure this all out.”

Wilson said she spent months trying to convince her family to get vaccinated, but they were scared and fed into misinformation on social media.

But now, Wilson said: “My family that was dying on their deathbed, they also wanted me to let people know to get vaccinated.”

Lisa Wilson’s husband, Steve Wilson, is the mayor of Belle Glade. Signs advocating vaccines are posted around the city, and he said his family will continue to spread the message that the vaccine can save lives.

“We want to make sure that we do our part to ensure that people get the opportunity,” Steve Wilson said. “There’s no excuse for them not being able or having the opportunity to get the vaccine.”

Lisa Wilson only wishes her own family had listened.

“I need for everybody to hear this message: Don’t trade place with me and my family, what we’re going through,” she said. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Copyright 2021 WPTV via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.