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Faith, freedom, fear: Covid vaccine skeptics in rural America


So who will you trust speak for the vaccine? Eva Fields?

She is a nurse practitioner who treated one of the first local patients to die of Covid. Raised in Greeneville, she has 24 close carriers of the virus.

When asking patients if they are going to get the vaccine, about half say, “No and I won’t.” Assuming she will be angry, they add, “I’m so sorry if this bothers you!”

Miss Fields replies, “It’s okay honey. I don’t intend to do that either.

Her gut tells her to believe a video someone sent her from a far-right disinformation group, in which a rant says studies have shown vaccines cause plaques in the brain.

Like others here, she is wary of Bill Gates’ involvement in vaccine development. One evening at supper, Dr. Theo Hensley, a vaccine promoter in his office, retorted, “I don’t know Bill Gates but I know Dolly Parton gave a million dollars. (Ms. Parton is Northeast Tennessee’s favorite girl.)

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

“When someone pushes something really hard, I sit down, because I don’t like people saying to me, ‘This is what you have to do,’” said Miss Fields. Echoing many others, she added, “I have to do my own research.”

At this time, it does not encourage or discourage patients from getting vaccinated.

The day the Fletchers, the retired couple, discussed the vaccine with their family doctor, Dr Daniel Lewis, was the first anniversary of the day he was put on a ventilator with a severe case of Covid.

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



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