Vaccine-hesitant first responder in Kentucky changes mind after contracting COVID-19: 'I messed up'

Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 13:40:40-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — A first responder who had declined to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has changed his mind, and he is urging others to evaluate their decision once more.

Covington Fire Department Lt. Jimmy Adams was one of the city's first firefighters to step up to take those with severe COVID-19 symptoms to hospitals at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year. He sacrificed time with family, sometimes needing to isolate himself to protect them from exposure. He wore all the protective gear.

It is when he stepped away from that gear while on vacation that he believes he contracted the virus.

“Most emergency workers tend to downplay it, which I held up my end of the bargain," he said. "I did that, but I started knowing deep down that something wasn't right. It was settling into my chest pretty bad."

Symptoms began Aug. 13, he said. A week later, an ambulance rushed him to the hospital.

“My potassium level got really high, and they were worried about cardiac arrhythmias,” Adams said. “It affected my liver numbers. It affected my kidney numbers.”

While quarantined in the hospital, he wrote to loved ones: “I messed up.”

“I got caught up in everything else that's out there, and I wasn't making sound decisions for me and my family," he said. “When you’re dead and gone, your political beliefs won’t matter.”

He said his wife tested positive, too, but she is vaccinated. He said her symptoms were not harsh.

“If I could rewind the tape, I would do it differently," he said. “I personally believe, now, that there is not a side effect that will make you feel as bad as I felt laying in that hospital bed Friday morning going into these coughing fits and double pneumonia.”