Wayne A. Bryan, whose sister Stacey died of COVID-19 on Sept. 9 despite being fully vaccinated, has a heartfelt and heartbreaking message for those who still have not gotten their shots.
“Stacey would never want to hurt anyone with harsh words or statements, but I am not that person and I will say the following to try to save some of your loved ones’ lives,” Bryan wrote on the What’s Going on St. Thomas Facebook page the morning after his sister died in a Florida hospital, alone, after she was airlifted from St. Thomas.
Born and raised on St. Thomas, Stacey Bryan was the mother of two little girls and the playwright of “Sad Mangoes” that debuted at the Pistarckle Theater in 2016.
She died one month shy of her 48th birthday.
“I was very proud of her for her play. It was loosely based on my grandmother and mother,” said Bryan when contacted via Facebook Messenger about his family’s ordeal. “I really did not expect the feedback I have been getting. I have no problem with that. It is my way of honoring Stacey,” he said of his post that has garnered hundreds of responses and an outpouring of grief and condolences.
“#FORSTACEY,” he wrote.
The V.I. Human Services Department was among those who paid tribute, calling Stacey “a loving and dedicated foster parent. We truly appreciate her service and are thankful to her family for their continued support of our children — gone too soon due to the COVID pandemic.”
“Stacey died because people are not getting vaccinated or wearing their masks when they need to. I am begging you to do so,” Bryan wrote in his post. “Are the vaccines 100 percent? No. Are there potential issues? Yes, but compared to the consequences they are less than you getting hurt or killed leaving your house,” said Bryan, who like his sister graduated from Ss. Peter and Paul High School on St. Thomas.
Urging people to not fall for myths about vaccines that were debunked years ago but are still peddled on YouTube and the like, Bryan wrote, “I can tell you first-hand that the territory is working around the clock to try to save your lives. Are we getting it perfect? No, but we are doing our best. You need to take advantage of the sacrifices made to give you the opportunity to live,” he said.
“I am overwhelmed by grief but even more by rage. I do not want to hear about your choice. Stacey was fully vaccinated but someone’s choice got her infected with a high dose of COVID,” Bryan said.
While some argue that vaccination is a matter of personal choice, Bryan wrote in his post, “Let me tell you the choices my sister did not have.”
“She did not have a choice in getting infected, and she did not have a choice when she had to call an ambulance and her little girls watched her leave,” he said.
“She did not have a choice in being in the hospital alone without family support. She did not have a choice when she told me she was scared right before they put her on a ventilator. She did not have a choice when they had to put a feeding tube in her,” said Bryan.
“She did not have a choice when we sent her to Florida alone, hoping for a miracle. She did not have a choice when she succumbed to COVID last night,” he wrote.
Another’s choice to not get vaccinated ultimately robbed his sister of her life, and what she wanted most, which was to be a mother to her two little girls, said Bryan.
“Your choice put us in the position to tell the beautiful children Stacey is gone. I do not hate you because I am giving you a gift on Stacey’s behalf. The chance to live. Get vaccinated, practice social distancing and love those close to you,” said Bryan.
Vaccines are free and readily available in the U.S. Virgin Islands. To schedule an appointment, call 340-777-8227 or visit covid19usvi.com/vaccines. Walk-ins are also accepted at the Health Department’s Community Vaccination Centers.
St. Croix’s Community Vaccination Center is located at the Nissan Center in La Grande Princesse, adjacent to the Honda Dealership and The Paint Shop, on the same side of the street as Food Town.
On St. Thomas, the Community Vaccination Center is located at the Community Health Clinic on the second floor at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
To report a suspected case of COVID-19, call 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com. For COVID 19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comment by the V.I. Human Services Department.