INDIANAPOLIS — A week and a half ago, Mark Green summoned his energy to videotape a message urging whoever was listening to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Green and his immediate family had decided against taking the vaccine, despite his own doctor’s urging. When he caught COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized, Green felt it was important to urge others to take the vaccine.
When he shared his story with IndyStar, a part of the USA TODAY Network, on Sept. 24, the 58-year-old New Palestine man was sitting in a room in the critical care unit of Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield, tethered to a device that delivered oxygen to his lungs. Pausing frequently to catch his breath, Green said the vaccine had gotten caught up in politics and urged everyone to take it for their health.
At the time, 11 days into his hospital stay, Green appeared to be holding his own, even managing to joke and smile at his wife Amy, who sat by his side.
In the prior months, Green and his wife Amy had considered whether or not to get the vaccine. Green was concerned that the vaccine was too new, that unknown side effects might crop up years down the road. He said it was unfortunate much of the debate had simply turned to Republicans being against the vaccine and Democrats being for it.
His doctor Robert Klinestiver, whom he saw for a lung condition, had urged him to take the vaccine. In August the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Green was still wavering when he fell ill about a month ago.
“I didn’t take the vaccine myself because I was scared, the unknown, what would happen two or three years down the road,” Green had told IndyStar. “Once I got sick, I kind of realized, it didn’t matter what happens down the road. It matters what happens now.”
Earlier on in his hospital stay, Green told Klinestiver that he wanted to become a proselytizer for the vaccine. On Sept. 24, he summoned his energy and looked into the video camera of IndyStar photographer Michelle Pemberton.
“Go get the vaccine,” he said. “You got to weigh the here and now or maybe never.”
COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 15,340 Indiana residents since the pandemic began in March 2020 and more than 700,000 people across the nation.
An auto parts manager, Green lived in New Palestine, Indiana, and was born in Beech Grove, Indiana, according to his obituary. He loved to garden, listen to music, play with his 11 grandchildren and vacation on the beach. Before he fell ill, he was caring for his 88-year-old mother, who herself had had a bout of COVID-19.
His wife, five children, 11 grandchildren with another on the way, and mother survive him. As does a searing video, a heartfelt reminder for any who watch that those who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 can wind up with severe disease or dead.
“The vaccine is what makes you healthy,” Green told IndyStar. “You get the vaccine, it’s going to make you healthy, keep you healthy and not let this happen to you.”
Follow Shari Rudavsky on Twitter: @srudavsky.