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Local Anti-Vaccine Leader Has Regrets After Getting COVID-19

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

A man who helped organize a local group that opposes COVID-19 vaccines and mandates says he contracted the disease and now has regrets.

Chris Wikoff told Hawaii News Now this week that he helped start the Aloha Freedom Coalition last October. He said he believed government shutdowns and mandates were threatening liberties and harming businesses.

“They were talking about vaccine passports and vaccine mandates and it seemed like it was over-the top totalitarianism and control,” Wikoff said.

But then he and his wife contracted COVID-19.

“We were told the COVID virus was not that deadly. It was nothing more than a little flu. I can tell you it’s more than a little flu,” he said.

Wikoff was sent to a hospital on the west side of Oʻahu, but was transferred to a facility in Honolulu because there was not enough space.

The state's hospitals were at or near capacity during the latest surge.

“I was in a bed. I can’t move, I can’t breathe,” he recalled. “I was afraid I was going to die.”

Wikoff is now considering getting vaccinated because his family and doctors recommend it.

“Probably getting COVID again would be more dangerous than getting the reaction from the vaccines,” he said.

Wikoff said he asked the Aloha Freedom Coalition to remove his name as a member on state business registration.

He is now warning people to not attend large protests like the ones the group staged in front of Hawaiʻi Lt. Gov. Josh Green's home.

“Before I thought Josh Green was exaggerating the situation and after my experience he sounds very rational to me,” he said.

Green responded that “I feel terrible for this gentleman that he got sick.”

“He was obviously getting bad advice and I feel terrible that a lot of innocent people held off on getting vaccinated because they were listening to these fear tactics,” Green said.

The protest group released a statement saying the group will continue protesting and wished Wikoff well.

"As much as I dislike people picking on my family, I just knew that we would be caring for him, me and my colleagues in the hospital, and he is unvaccinated, and others in that movement are unvaccinated, and they have a much higher risk of dying — along with the people that they've scared off from being vaccinated," Green told HPR's The Conversation this week.

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