A conservative Tennessee-based talk radio host has changed his previously skeptical messaging on vaccines after being hospitalized with COVID-19, his family said.
Phil Valentine, who has posted on social media dissuading his audience from getting vaccinated if they aren't "in danger of dying" from COVID, has been hospitalized in the critical care unit and is receiving supplemental oxygen, but is not on a ventilator, according to his brother.
Valentine told listeners after being diagnosed — but before being hospitalized — that he chose not to get a COVID vaccine because he thought he probably wouldn't die from the disease.
His brother, Mark Valentine, said on WWTN-FM in Nashville this week that his brother has never been an "anti-vaxxer," but was "pro-information” and “pro-choice" regarding the vaccine.
“First of all, he’s regretful that he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination,” Mark Valentine said. “For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, 'Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.’"
In December, 2020, as vaccines were just beginning to roll out in the U.S., Phil Valentine wrote in a blog post that he probably had a very low chance of getting COVID.
Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and new cases have been on the rise in July as the highly spreadable delta variant is now responsible for the majority of cases in the country.
Mark Valentine said he got vaccinated after his brother's sickness. A post on the station's Facebook page from the family says that Valentine plans to advocate for vaccinations once he recovers and returns to the airwaves.
"Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!" his family said in the statement.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Radio host Phil Valentine has changed mind on COVID vaccine skepticism