POLSON — A milestone was celebrated in Montana last week as the 10,000 military veteran received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kent Stewart made the drive from Polson to Missoula to receive the vaccine but contemplated his decision to become vaccinated the entire drive, due to a health scare with the anthrax vaccine in 2003.
“I’ve had all of my childhood vaccines but with that going the way it did I got to where I just didn’t trust vaccines anymore,” Stewart tells MTN News.
Stewart served 16 years in the Marine Corps and National Guard.
Back in 2003, he was mandated to receive the anthrax vaccine. He said his reaction to the vaccine almost killed him.
Each shot I kept getting I just kept getting sicker and sicker just physically, finally, it just got to where I couldn’t even work anymore because I was so sick,” said Stewart.
He said his reaction to the vaccine scared him away from other vaccines for the better part of 15 years: “That’s when I went anti-vax.”
Kent said he hadn’t contemplated taking the COVID-19 vaccine until his doctor told him he might die if he contracts COVID due to his compromised immune system.
“If I get it, it could really hurt me bad,” said Stewart.
Kent said he dove into research on the vaccine and received opinions from numerous doctors and family members before deciding to get vaccinated.
“I just didn’t dive into this, I did a lot of research and tried to make the best-informed decision I could,” said Stewart.
Kent said his family is still mixed on the idea of receiving the vaccine after seeing his reaction to the Anthrax vaccine in 2003.
“I’m just trying to be an example non-verbally, if it comes up, I think I will talk about it, but I can’t force anybody, we’re our own people,” said Stewart.
Kent hopes veterans on the fence about taking the vaccine will use his experience as guidance while making their decision.
“If I can be example and say yeah, what happened to me with another vaccine, I got sick but with this one, maybe you know, maybe I can be an example,” said Stewart.
Stewart said he had no idea he was going to be the 10,000 Montana veteran to receive the vaccine when he showed up to the clinic last week.