Conservative radio host hospitalized in Tennessee regrets not getting vaccine as state restarts youth outreach

The family of a conservative Tennessee radio host currently hospitalized with Covid is begging listeners and others to get the vaccine

By Sheila Flynn
in Denver
Saturday 24 July 2021 00:26
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The family of a conservative Tennessee radio host currently hospitalized with Covid, who regrets not opting to be vaccinated, issued a plea for others to get the vaccine.

Phil Valentine has for years hosted an afternoon talk show on WWTN-FM in Nashville. His brother, Mark Valentine, gave an interview to the station on Thursday urging others to get the vaccine.

“Phil contracted the Covid virus a little over a week ago and has since been hospitalized and is in very serious condition, suffering from Covid Pneumonia and the attendant side effects,” the family statement read on the Facebook page of Valentine’s radio station. It added that the host “regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon”.

Valentine’s brother, Mark Valentine, went on air Thursday to address his brother’s condition and tell the audience the host was “regretful that he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination.

“For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.’”

He claimed on air that his brother was “pro-information” and “pro-choice” when it came to the vaccine but admitted “he got this one wrong”.

Mark Valentine told the radio station on Thursday that his brother was in a critical care unit on supplemental oxygen but not on a ventilator. The family’s subsequent Facebook post on Friday urged people to pray for the radio host and begged people to get vaccinated.

Among the radio host’s conservative Tennessee listenership, opposition to Covid vaccination is high. The heavily red state of has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US despite steadily climbing numbers of Covid cases. Infection rates are up 200 per cent since 1 July in the state, where conservative lawmakers have waged an ongoing campaign against promotion of the vaccine, particularly for minors.

The Tennessean exclusively reported this month that the state’s Department of Health had bowed to conservative pressure by scaling back efforts to promote the vaccine to minors, including taking the agency’s logo off materials urging minors to get vaccinated.

The Associated Press reported that “former state vaccine chief Michelle Fiscus has repeatedly said she was terminated to appease some GOP lawmakers who were outraged over state outreach for Covid-19 vaccinations to minors. Some lawmakers even threatened to dissolve the Health Department over the marketing”.

On Friday, however, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr Lisa Piercey insisted to the media that any pause in vaccination outreach simply boiled down to reassessment of communications and marketing strategies.

“The reason that we paused is because we wanted to leave no room for interpretation about where we are shooting, and we are shooting to get the message to parents,” she said. “There was a perception we were marketing to children and that totally was against our view about the importance of parental authority.”

She did, however, warn against the dangers of the Delta variant and urged people to get vaccinated.

Mark Valentine himself told WWTN-FM he’d also decided to get the vaccine after the diagnosis of his brother, who’d previously told listeners they should consider: “If I get this covid thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?” He’d told them also that he wouldn’t get the vaccine since he thought it was unlikely he would die.

His brother, Mark, now told the radio station that not being vaccinated “is just a selfish position to have, and, absent any concrete evidence to the contrary in terms of side effects and negative effects of the vaccine, I have a duty to do that.”

As of Friday, more than 12,666 people in Tennessee had died of coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for Cumulus Radio, which owns WWTN-FM, on Friday told The Independent she could not comment on an employee’s health and the company would be making no further statement.

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