Two strangers sat down next to each other at Spurrier's Gridiron Grille in Gainesville, Florida, and had a great conversation that should have been filmed for all of America to see. It all started when Mark Hall of Ocala, Florida, commented on Dr. Duane Mitchell's choice of appetizer: Brussels sprouts.
"That sounds awful. No, thank you," Hall joked.
Dr. Mitchell told Hall he was a researcher at the University of Florida studying human diseases, which kicked off a contentious but friendly conversation about the coronavirus vaccines. Dr. Mitchell had got the vaccine, but Hall had been firmly against it for a year and a half.
"I've been against the shot since the shot was even born," the Ocala resident said in a University of Florida video. "Timelines weren't adding up for me. It seemed like the perfect storm." However, that didn't stop him from wanting to learn more and it made all of the difference.
"I literally just started bombarding him with questions," Hall said. "It was a back and forth," Mitchell, 50, told The Washington Post. "It was clear that he was skeptical, but he kept asking questions."
Hall says his extensive personal research led him to be a vaccine skeptic. "It seemed like the information was forever changing. … I've stayed up dark, dark nights looking into information," he said.
"Being that there's so much political bias … I'm honestly not [a Republican conspiracy theorist or a liberal]," he said. "I try to think for myself and make rational decisions based upon facts."
But there's a big difference between doing your research online versus in a laboratory.
A Conversation Between a Vaccine-Hesitant Man and a Doctor www.youtube.com
Dr. Mitchell enjoyed talking to Hall because "he was inquisitive instead of just opinionated," and he enjoyed hearing his "preconceived notions" and "some of the information he had already heard."
Dr. Mitchell never thought that he would change Hall's mind but when both finished their dinner and drinks he made his final ask.
"He's like, 'So, have I convinced you to maybe get your vaccine?'" Hall recounted in a video posted by the University of Florida. "I made a joke. I said, 'If you give it to me, I'll take it.' "
"Done. We'll figure out a way," he remembered Mitchell saying.
The two men exchanged numbers, although Dr. Mitchell doubted that anything would come of it. But soon after, Hall sent him a text and they set up an appointment for him to get his shot at the university's clinic.
"I couldn't believe it," Mitchell told The Post.
Hall gave a simple answer when his friends asked why he changed his mind after a year and a half. "Because I shook a man's hand," he said. "I could look him in the eye and I knew with sincere conviction that he meant everything that he said."
The encounter between the doctor and former anti-vaxxer shows what can happen when people listen to one another. Hall deserves a lot of credit for actually being someone who tries to make "rational decisions based upon facts," instead of cherry-picking information that suited his preconceived notions. He's also a wonderful example of someone being able to publicly admit they changed their mind, which is tough for anyone.
Hall gets his shot with Dr. Mitchell.via The University of Florida / YouTube
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