ST. GEORGE — When Cliff Holt, a pharmacist who delivers free COVID-19 vaccinations to various Washington County communities, pulled into the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parking lot at 200 W. Brigham Rd. on Wednesday, it was empty.
Holt, who runs and owns Hurricane Family Pharmacy, is usually met with activists who say their mission is to inform people about COVID-19, its vaccinations and their potential side effects. This is curious behavior, as cases are on the rise again in Southern Utah, and officials around the world urge people to get vaccinated.
“My job is to educate and invite,” Holt told St. George News. “Some of those folks, they try to bully, coerce and scare people.”
Kasandra Leavitt, one of the activists, said that her goal is not to protest, but rather to make sure that people are giving “informed consent.”
“I just want people to understand what they’re doing,” Leavitt told St. George News.
Leavitt has met Holt at over 40 sites since Holt began delivering free vaccines to various communities. She drives what she calls the “Truth Truck,” which has an electronic display on its sides and rear-end.
Leavitt said that she gets her info from doctors, like Dr. Peter Hotez, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, among other sources.
“It’s important to me that people are informed about the decision they’re making,” Leavitt said. “I just want people to be informed, so they can make their own decisions. I’m just a small-town woman trying to raise awareness.”
Does that sound familiar? It sounds a lot like Holt’s approach: they both say they are trying to provide information so that people can make their own decisions. While their missions may draw them into conflict, they both described their interactions as cordial.
“It’s always been respectful,” Leavitt said.
Holt agreed, then pivoted to his experience as a medical professional. Holt said that, while there have been adverse side-effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, all the other 3,000-plus drugs on his shelves have caused adverse reactions, too.
“Aspirin is one of them,” he said. “There’s about 100,000 people hospitalized per year from Aspirin. About 15,000 of them die.”
Leavitt took exception to that idea.
“When has someone come knocking on your door to coerce you to take Aspirin,” she wondered.
What bothers Leavitt most, she said, was the way people who haven’t been vaccinated may be held in contempt.
“If it’s so effective, I don’t understand why we’re being coerced by our employers, neighbors and churches,” Leavitt said.
But Holt is on a mission. He was selected by the Utah Department of Health to be one of their four partners, he said, so the activists won’t deter him.
“I’m going to keep doing my job, even if they’re everywhere I go,” Holt said, as his first client parked a few spots away. Holt excused himself, then sauntered over to the white SUV. Holt handed the driver, David Harrison, paperwork to fill out.
Then Holt went to his Tesla to prepare Harrison’s second dose in the two-shot Moderna sequence.
When St. George News asked Harrison why he had visited the site, he shrugged.
“My wife and my son had COVID-19,” Harrison said. “I didn’t get it, so I thought I was good.”
Harrison pointed out that he was neither pro- nor anti-vaccination. He just didn’t think much of it.
“Then, one of my employees got it,” he said. “He ended up in and out of the ICU. That’s when I decided to get the shot.”
Holt said the vaccines have saved lives, but he still believes it’s up to each individual to decide for oneself whether to get the vaccine.
“In the first 15 months, we saw over 2 million cases, and 40,000 deaths a month,” Holt said. “Since these vaccines came available, in March 2021, those numbers have dropped significantly. I didn’t make that up; that’s hard data.”
Holt said that, for those who decide to forego the vaccine, there were ways to prevent serious illness, and maybe even death.
“We’ve seen some positive results from Ivermectin,” Holt said. “It’s used to treat parasites. They gave it to health care workers in India, and it saved many lives.”
Holt also said Azithromycin, which is used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections, may be helpful.
“Between the vaccines, and these two drugs, people don’t need to die,” he said.
It should be noted that the FDA cautions against using either of these drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19. A reminder that, though advances have been made, studies are ongoing.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.