Granddaughter credits vaccinated grandfather for keeping her out of ICU

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With many people reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, one Knoxville grandfather is grateful he is fully vaccinated. Yet, 61% of the entire population of Tennessee has yet to receive even one dose of the vaccine.

At the age of 64, Russ Fleming was among those in the second wave of eligibility for the Moderna vaccine. Most people identify the young as being free of the coronavirus and keeping a safer distance to protect older people, but this story is the opposite.

Fleming is pleased that he’s fully vaccinated. As a result, he was able to care for his two granddaughters and his son who came down with COVID-19 in late April. He said he didn’t hesitate to get his first Moderna shot in mid-March, then the second one in mid-April at the old Food City site in North Knoxville.

“I was always coughing, sneezing, I was always tired. It was hard to keep my fever down. I was always in the low-grade fever area. There was one time when it spiked up for about 12 hours,” said Fleming’s granddaughter Kylie Fleming.

Kylie credits her granddad for keeping them out of the ICU when he took care of them. Fleming said the girls, who were never hospitalized due to the virus, were nevertheless sick for two weeks. Yet, he remained healthy.

“I was able to take care of them. Somebody had to feed them when they were down and go get stuff for them,” Fleming said. “If I had been sick too, I probably would have had to go to the hospital. I mean, I’m 64 years old.”

The latest numbers show that 31% of Tennesseans have been fully vaccinated and that 39% received at least one dose. Neither Kylie nor Mackinzey have been vaccinated, yet Mackinzey is too young. However, both said they want to be first in line.

“I really want to get the vaccine because then I could do more things with my friends and stuff. I’d still be wearing my mask. Some of my friends they may not want to get the vaccine, but I think it’s a good thing to go get the vaccine. It helps save lives,” said Mackinzey.

Fleming has a simple message for those who are hesitant in getting vaccinated, “Go ahead and get the shot. We’ll be out of this pretty soon.”

The CDC says widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the global pandemic. The CDC recommends that everyone 12-years-old and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against the virus.

Children 12 and older are able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine which is available at many East Tennessee drug stores.

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