Former Edson anti-vax wife shares her COVID-19 intensive care husband’s horror story – .

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Former Edson anti-vax wife shares her COVID-19 intensive care husband’s horror story – .


As a rural Alberta man fights for his life in an intensive care unit in Edmonton, his wife, who was once against COVID-19 vaccines, urges others to get vaccinated and protect themselves against the disinformation online.

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As a rural Alberta man fights for his life in an intensive care unit in Edmonton, his wife, who was once against COVID-19 vaccines, urges others to get vaccinated and protect themselves against the disinformation online.

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On Tuesday, Carla Palkun, 41, launched a passionate plea on Facebook – where she is a member of several anti-vaccination groups – for unvaccinated Albertans to receive the vaccine after the virus tore her family apart last week and left her husband, Chris Palkun, 40, in an intensive care bed more than 200 kilometers away.

Having an otherwise healthy family with no comorbidities, Carla said she was adamant against COVID-19 vaccines, even when driving Chris, who was on the same page, to an Edson hospital on Saturday. to be treated for the disease. But on the ride, her husband changed his mind, she added.

“He said to me, ‘I think when I get out, I’m going to go get shot’, and I said, ‘That’s fair enough… but I’m still probably not going to get it’, ‘ Carla told Postmedia in a telephone interview Thursday. “I didn’t know he was going to need all of this. As soon as he was intubated and taken to (Edmonton) my mind instantly changed my mind – that I am going to get the vaccine too.

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Living “in the country” near Edson, where the couple’s lives had not been affected by the disease, Carla said she and her husband began to believe the virus was not real. She searched for information online and joined “anti-vaccine” Facebook groups that led her to accept certain conspiratorial views.

“Everyone says you shouldn’t get a vax because there is something about the vaccines that the government wants in your body so they can follow you around and control you,” she said. .

That all changed when her husband was transferred to the Gray Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton on Sunday.

“It seems so stupid now,” Carla added.

Timothy Caulfield, a professor at the University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, warns that the volume and nature of misinformation online makes it possible for almost anyone to follow. let it lead. to people’s fears, concerns, values ​​and sometimes even their better judgment.

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“Those who push disinformation are very good at making it appear scientifically legitimate,” said Caulfield. “They refer to studies and use scientific language, and that can be very, very persuasive. “

However, he added, studies show that efforts to demystify online disinformation are working, and initiatives like ScienceUpFirst, a collective of scientists, researchers and healthcare experts, are showing signs of success. are working to counter false information about COVID-19.

“It is specifically designed to tackle disinformation where it resides, and we know – research tells us – that it is largely, not entirely, but largely a social media phenomenon.” , did he declare. “So we try to create content that is relevant to all Canadians and that works on all social media platforms. “

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But unlike Carla, most people don’t change their minds overnight on polarizing topics like COVID-19 vaccines. Breaking through to those with false vaccine beliefs is a long game, said Caulfield, and one that requires patience. But it doesn’t hurt to use disinformation tools against him, either.

“One of the reasons misinformation spreads is that those who push it often rely on anecdotes,” Caulfield said. “They rely on testimonials, even if they’re not true, but those testimonials can be very, very powerful, especially if they speak about someone’s values. “

And personal stories like Carla’s, he added, can help fight noise.

Chris is in critical condition on Thursday, Carla says. She tried to keep in touch with him when possible through Edson’s video chat.

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Once he gets better, “if he gets better,” she added, she plans to share her story with the anti-vaccines she was tracking before. She says she doesn’t want others to learn her lesson the hard way – firsthand – and hopes to save them from grief by changing their minds instead.

“But it’s so hard to try to change someone’s mind,” she said, “because I know how stubborn we were, and no one was going to tell us to do it. vaccinate. “

In the meantime, she’s thinking about how to counter the misinformation offline and closer to home.

After exposing her children to false information about the infertility-causing COVID-19 vaccine, Carla says she fears havingmisinformed them and is considering how to correct it.

“I feel bad for that too,” she said. “You really have to be careful what you say to your children because they listen to everything you say. “

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Carla Palkun, far left, and her husband Chris Palkun, far right, pose with their children for a photo in January 2020 in Kamloops, British Columbia. in the intensive care unit at Gray Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton. Photo provided

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