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Florida doctor convinces unvaccinated man in bar to receive first dose


“It was obviously his decision, but just being able to play a small role in helping him make that decision was truly gratifying.”

SERGEI GAPON / AFP via Getty Images

The conversation started with Brussels sprouts.

Mark Hall did not like Duane Mitchell’s selection of appetizers.

“Sounds awful. No, thank you,” Hall joked.

Soon the icebreaker that brought the two strangers to a chat at a restaurant bar in Gainesville, Florida earlier this month turned into a more than three-hour conversation about coronavirus vaccines. .

“What do you think of the vaccine? Hall asked after Mitchell revealed he was a researcher studying human diseases at the University of Florida.

Mitchell replied that he believed in the vaccine and had been vaccinated. But Hall had no intention of getting shot. Hall said he had done extensive research on vaccines, but many of his questions remained unanswered.

“It was a back and forth,” Mitchell, 50, told the Washington Post. “It was clear he was skeptical, but he kept asking questions.”

At the end of dinner, the men exchanged their numbers and Hall made another joke. He would get the vaccine – but only if Mitchell gave it to him, the doctor told The Post. To Mitchell’s surprise, Hall followed up and texted him to schedule his appointment at the college clinic. Five days after their chance meeting, Hall received his first blow.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Mitchell told The Post. “.. After the meeting, I said,” I don’t know if he will call someday and follow, but maybe he will get the shot where he is, maybe the occasion will show up later. ”It seemed our conversation had made a difference.

Hall did not immediately respond to a request for an interview from The Post on Tuesday night.

Although more than 187.7 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States – more than half of the country’s population – millions of Americans have yet to be vaccinated. Many remain skeptical about the effectiveness of vaccines despite assurances from public health experts that they are safe and reduce the chances of developing severe symptoms of covid-19. Some have changed their minds, while others have remained adamant against the vaccine even on their deathbed.

Hall has been skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine since the early stages of the pandemic. Although his wife had been vaccinated, Hall had decided not to.

“I’ve been against shooting ever since shooting was even born,” the Ocala, Fla. Resident said in a University of Florida video. “The deadlines didn’t add up for me. It seemed like the perfect storm.

When the Food and Drug Administration began approving the vaccines for emergency use, Hall was still not convinced. “It seemed like the information was changing forever. . . . I spent dark nights looking for information.

So when Mitchell sat next to him at the restaurant earlier this month, Hall wanted to know what the doctor thought.

“I literally started bombarding him with questions,” Hall said.

What did Mitchell know about vaccines? What were the pros and cons? Was the information shared by his friends on Facebook and TikTok reliable?

Mitchell answered questions one after another about his steak and salad. As the two men paid their bills, he offered Hall the opportunity to make an appointment for the vaccine at the university clinic.

“He said to me, ‘So did I convince you to maybe get the vaccine?'” Hall said in the video released by UF. “I made a joke. I said, ‘If you give it to me, I’ll take it.’ “

“Done. We’ll find a way,” he recalls, telling Mitchell.

In reality, Mitchell had no expectation of Hall following. So when Hall texted three days later to schedule his vaccine, the doctor was elated.

“It was obviously his decision, but just being able to play a small role in helping him make that decision was really gratifying,” he told The Post.

Mitchell stood a few paces from Hall as he watched him take his first shot. The two have kept in touch, Mitchell said.