Unvaccinated father dies from COVID-19 after pleading with others to get the shot

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Harold Blackwell, an unvaccinated father of two girls, died from pneumonia brought on by COVID-19 after taking to social media to advocate for vaccination while sick.

Blackwell's sister, Melinda Dakers, said he could barely walk or breathe while infected with COVID-19, but still expressed his regret over not getting the vaccine.

"When they told him he had COVID pneumonia, he said 'I should have got that shot,'" Dakers said. "And I said, 'we're not going to talk about that now.'"

Blackwell, a previously healthy 48-year-old, refused to get vaccinated. But when he got sick, he began advocating for vaccination on social media and pleading with others to take the virus seriously.

"It's real breaking out of cold sweats and chills, can't sleep at night," Blackwell said in one video. "Like the walls coming in on you."

That video changed the minds of Blackwell's younger relatives, including his niece, Jasmine Dakers, who said at least 19 other relatives got vaccinated after they viewed it.

"We all knew he was against it and we were against it with him," Dakers said. "To see him going through that, that's was made his nieces and nephews say, 'okay we're going to get it.'"

Dakers said after watching her uncle struggle and being "here one day and gone the next," she wishes everyone will get vaccinated. Blackwell's sister, Marian Dakers, said he left a legacy showing others that the vaccine can save lives.

"I just want everybody to know: don't take this for a joke, wear your mask, get vaccinated," Blackwell said in the video.
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