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Although medical officials say baseball legend Hank Aaron died of natural causes, his recent passing is being hijacked by some people to cast doubt on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Aaron, considered one of the greatest sluggers to ever live, died Friday. He was 86. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office on Monday reported he died of natural causes.
However, due to Aaron publicly receiving the COVID-19 vaccine earlier in the month in an effort to encourage skeptics to also get a jab (“I was proud to get the COVID-19 vaccine earlier today at Morehouse School of Medicine. I hope you do the same!”), his death is being falsely linked to the injection among the spread of misinformation, NBC News first reported.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a staunch, outspoken anti-vaxxer, attempted to lump Aaron’s death into his theories, writing on Twitter, “#HankAaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following administration of #COVID #vaccines. He received the #Moderna vaccine on Jan. 5 to inspire other Black Americans to get the vaccine. #TheDefender.”
Kennedy and other naysayers are “opportunists,” Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and molecular biology and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told NBC News.
“They’ll try to glom on to anything they can,” he told the outlet.
Aaron was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Georgia on Jan. 5, telling the Associated Press at the time, “I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this. … It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”
The late Aaron is not alone in using his celebrity to encourage others who are wary of getting vaccinated. Tyler Perry on Tuesday announced he received the vaccine and was going to use the experience to educate via a BET special.
“If you look at our history in this country, the Tuskegee experiment, Henrietta Lacks, it raises flags for us as African American people. So I understand why there’s a healthy skepticism about the vaccine,” Perry told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King.
Perry’s BET special will air Thursday night, with the media mogul saying it is important because “I have a crew that works for me, and they’re largely African American people who were all skeptical about the vaccine. When they sat in the room, as they worked on the cameras, and doing hair and makeup and all that stuff, they listened to all the information, and by the time we got to the end of it, they all wanted to take it. So I think, again, it all goes back to getting the correct information and getting it from people that you trust and you understand. I think this last administration did a lot of damage in eroding trust when it comes to this vaccine. But the information that I’ve found has been very helpful.”
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