Travis Campbell called his son this week with a big request. He asked the 14-year-old to commit to giving his sister away at her wedding someday if Campbell does not make it out of the intensive care unit.
“I messed up big time, you guys — I didn’t get the vaccine,” Campbell said in a Wednesday video posted to his Facebook page. He filmed it from a Virginia hospital bed, where he has spent nearly two weeks battling covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The 43-year-old Bristol, Va., retail worker and former police officer told The Washington Post on Thursday that he planned to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of the summer — right after he fully recovered from a recent knee surgery and got through a home move.
After surviving a mild covid-19 case last year, Campbell said he thought he had the antibodies to ward off future infection. Now, he worries the decision to delay the shot will cost him his life, as he fights pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung.
Campbell, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, gasped for breath during a 20-minute interview with The Post, despite wearing an oxygen tube. The father of seven blames himself for spreading the virus to his family; his wife and children are recovering from less-serious cases at their home 20 miles away.
“It was my fault,” he told The Post. “I could have done research. I could have gotten the vaccine. I could have gotten my kids vaccinated, but I was negligent. I was so tied up with moving houses [that] I didn’t make it an urgency. Now, we don’t have a choice to go back.”
His hopes of getting out of the hospital alive plummet with each passing day. He has called his best friends to say goodbye and told his family he wishes to be cremated, Campbell told The Post.
As he fights to recover, Campbell has documented his time at the hospital in videos and diary entries on his Facebook page. He said he’s sharing his story publicly with the hope of changing the mind of at least one vaccine denier or someone who — like him — hasn’t prioritized getting inoculated.
“I’m not trying to talk down to you,” he said in a video last week. “I’m trying to talk to you so you understand that I don’t want to go to your funeral and I don’t want you to come to mine. The new delta strain … will get you down so fast you are not going to get back up.”