A conservative radio host in Tennessee who was openly skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines has been hospitalized and is now in critical care with the disease. Phil Valentine, who hosts a show on Nashville’s WWTN-FM, was diagnosed with the coronavirus and is now “in very serious condition” as he battles pneumonia, his family said in a statement posted to the radio station’s Twitter account. Although he needs help breathing, Valentine is not on a ventilator, his family said, while making clear that the experience has changed his stance on vaccination.
“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” Valentine’s family said. “Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!”
Over the past few months, Valentine has encouraged his listeners to be skeptical of the vaccine and to think twice about getting the shot if they aren’t at high risk of dying from COVID-19. After he was diagnosed, Valentine publicly said that was the reason he had chosen not to get vaccinated. He explained his stance in a blog post in December:
I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m just using common sense. What are my odds of getting COVID? They’re pretty low. What are my odds of dying from COVID if I do get it? Probably way less than one percent. I’m doing what everyone should do and that’s my own personal health risk assessment. If you have underlying health issues you probably need to get the vaccine. If you’re not at high risk of dying from COVID then you’re probably safer not getting it.
Shortly after he was diagnosed, Valentine was very cavalier about the diagnosis, writing on Facebook that there “are some very effective alternatives to the vaccine” and saying he was doing his “patriotic duty for natural herd immunity.”
It seems the radio host’s brother, Mark Valentine, had followed his brother’s advice. But he changed his mind after the hospitalization. “Many of you know that my brother Phil is in the hospital with Covid related pneumonia. He is fighting for his life, which has persuaded me to get vaccinated when I was previously not inclined to do so,” Mark Valentine wrote on Facebook. Mark Valentine also spoke to WWTN-FM about his brother’s condition. “First of all, he’s regretful that he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination,” Mark Valentine said of his brother. “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.’”
Tennessee has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates as less than 40 percent of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated.