The COVID-19 vaccination has now been around for several months and is readily available to most adults. And while it’s been proven to be effective in preventing or reducing symptoms of the virus drastically, people are still hesitant to get their doses.

While getting a vaccine is a personal choice, there have been many people who refused to get it who have gotten COVID are now wishing they had gotten it. For example, take this couple from Missouri who both ended up in the hospital or this mom whose unvaccinated 13-year-old fought for her life.

Now, it’s the family of a 28-year-old man named Curt Carpenter. The Alabama resident always touted that COVID was merely a “hoax” and that there was no need to get vaccinated—so he didn’t.

When Curt did get diagnosed with the virus, he got very sick. In fact, he could barely breathe on his own and ended up spending a total of 51 days in the intensive care unit at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham. He then passed away on May 2.

Curt’s mother, Christy Carpenter, is grieving the loss of her son, but she still wants to use it as an opportunity to ensure that the public knows how important it is to get vaccinated.

Christy Carpenter

“I know that if Curt had survived, he would have made sure everyone knew how serious this disease is, and how important the vaccine is,” said Christy, who also had the virus. “My daughter and I are now carrying out that mission in his memory.”

It seems that many people wait until it’s too late to get the vaccine—and Christy really wants to avoid that happening to any more people.

“Curt thought COVID was a hoax and did not take it seriously, until he could not breathe without the oxygen. The same day he was put on the ventilator, he told us, ‘This is not a hoax, this is real,’ ” Carpenter said.

With Alabama having some of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, officials are also chiming in to reiterate just how important the vaccine is.

“How much more information do we need to say that we can do this in Alabama?” said Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, last week. “We have vaccine that is readily available, it’s free, it’s safe, it can be given at any time. What else can we do? We’ve done everything we need to do, and these trends are not looking good. We could be in a really bad spot within a couple of weeks.”