NC man says his battle with COVID-19 is changing people’s minds about vaccine

North Carolina news

EDEN, N.C. (WGHP) — Joel Tate, 52, of Eden said he never expected his intense battle with COVID-19.

Tate, his wife and one of his daughters tested positive in mid-March. Tate went to UNC Rockingham Health Care after his oxygen levels dropped. 

“They put me on a ventilator the 20th, and they flew me to Chapel Hill the 21st. The ventilator was doing all the work. I wasn’t breathing,” he said.

Tate would remain in the hospital for 84 days. He suffered a stroke, double pneumonia and a collapsed lung. 

His recovery is progressing, but Tate hasn’t been able to return to work as a mechanic or return to archery.  

“Shortness of breath still and paralysis on the right side. It’s getting better, but I can’t move my arm much,” he said of his symptoms. 

Initially, Tate was hesitant about getting the vaccine. His age group was not eligible when he fell sick. 

“I told her I’m healthy, no underlying conditions, and if I get it, I’ll fight it off and go about my business, and that wasn’t the case. I come near dying. It about took me out of here,” he said of a conversation with his wife. 

Tate believes vaccination should be a choice but said his experience is encouraging others to get vaccinated. 

“I’ll tell anybody: it’s your choice, but it’s nothing to play with,” he said.

He still has COVID antibodies but was told he can go in for additional testing in August to see if he can get vaccinated. 

Tate expressed his gratitude to family members and friends who are now fundraising for his medical bills. 

They are holding an archery shoot at Boneyard Archery in Madison on Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. They will also host a charity golf tournament on Sept. 11 at the Wolf Creek Golf Course.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. 

“It’s by the grace of God that I’m sitting here talking to you. Without him, I wouldn’t be here,” Tate said. 

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