‘Stop being thick-headed’: COVID-19 survivors, experts stress importance of getting vaccine

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Robert Grabowski has advice for others, and his older self, when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

“Just stop being thick-headed,” he said. “Stop being stubborn, stop being naïve, stop being stupid.”

Grabowski tested positive for COVID-19 back in November but had no symptoms.

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As a gym owner and avid exerciser, he thought he was fine and, admittedly, did not take it seriously.

But in March, he got it again.

“What I had the second time might have been one of those other strains, and it was brutal,” Grabowski said.

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For 10 days, Grabowski had an average fever of 102 degrees. When it hit 103, he went to the hospital. And he said the body aches that time terrified him.

“I had this burning in both of my hips that I’ve never felt before, it was like a blowtorch,” he said. “It was as if this virus had its grips its claws around my hips.”

Grabowski said before that experience, he didn’t think he needed the vaccine because he already had COVID-19. And he’s not the only one.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

Orange County commissioner Mayra Uribe said her office has been researching vaccine hesitancy.

“The more I talk to people who’ve had COVID, they don’t think they need (the vaccine),” she said.

Uribe worried that if even half of the more than 130,000 Orange County residents who’ve had COVID-19 believe they’re protected and don’t need the vaccine, we may never reach herd immunity or be able to stop wearing masks.

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“I’m very concerned because people are frustrated, they’re over this disease. And I can understand that,” Uribe said. “But we don’t want people’s frustration to lead to not being smart or making good choices.”

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.