After losing her father to COVID-19 in August, former Bell County resident Lisa Havens hopes her story can keep other families from suffering the same pain.
Havens, an attorney at Baylor Scott & White, is the focus of a new TV campaign by the health care provider aiming to help those who are vaccinated talk to their unvaccinated loved ones about inoculations.
“If you are still trying to convince someone in your life to get vaccinated, don’t give up,” Havens said in the commercial, which recently started airing.
Now living in the Dallas area, Havens, 58, lived in Bell County for 24 years before moving north four years ago.
Havens said her parents, Delbert and Jackqueline Havens, both were admitted to a hospital in Ohio earlier this year after contracting the virus.
Unsure of getting the vaccine since it was new, both of her parents were unvaccinated at the time, Havens said.
Over two weeks, Havens said her father slowly started to get worse, starting with having trouble breathing. She said her mother had less severe symptoms, and was able to be treated with monoclonal antibodies to help in recovery.
After two weeks in the hospital, Delbert Havens, 84, died with pneumonia related to the virus while his wife survived.
Havens said her father, who was in the military for six years and a pastor for more than 39 years, was not against getting vaccinated and had received others previously.
Following her father’s death, Havens said her mother, 83, told her she wished both of them would have gotten vaccinated.
“Over the next two weeks I was there a lot of that time,” Havens said. “And just seeing what he went through with the disease itself, the suffering, and just thinking that he could get through it and not being able to, had a profound impact on us.”
Havens said many of her family members and close family friends have gotten the vaccine since her father’s death and hearing his story. She said some are still holding out and considering their options.
Sharing her family’s story — especially on television — was hard for Havens, but it was something her father would have wanted.
“It was definitely hard to do, and very personal, but we all talked about it as a family and we all felt like my dad spent his life serving, loving and caring for people and he would not want others to suffer,” Havens said. “We talked through that and felt that it was important to do it in a way that was honoring to him and was not judgmental of other people’s decisions, and was just sharing our personal experience with the disease and what we have learned.”
Since the commercial came out, Havens said she has received feedback from many people telling her how much it has helped them.
Find the words
The advertisement Havens participated in is part of a new multimedia campaign by Baylor Scott & White titled Find the Words.
“This effort is designed to encourage loved ones of the unvaccinated to have conversations about the lifesaving importance of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Alex Arroliga, chief medical officer at the provider, said. “Our hope is to better equip those having these difficult conversations — to help them find the words to connect with their unvaccinated friends and family.”
The campaign started Sept. 29 with a series of three television spots ranging from 15 to 90 seconds that aired in North Texas, Central Texas and Austin.
Moving forward, the campaign will include radio spots, social media posts and more television advertisements pointing people to its website. It features Texans who have lost unvaccinated loved ones to COVID-19.
That website will have a variety of resources to help vaccinated people convince their unvaccinated family members. These resources include tips from a psychologist on how to approach the conversation, and a list of common concerns and misinformation along with how to address and share evidence.
Julie Smith, spokeswoman for the provider, said this approach came after a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the main reason those originally hesitant got vaccinated was persuasion from friends and family.
Currently, only about 45% of Texans are still not fully vaccinated against the virus, Smith said.
To learn more about the campaign, visit www.bswhealth.com/findthewords.