Days before he died of COVID-19, Florida business owner and father Marquis Davis told his wife that he intended to get vaccinated if he recovered from the virus.
It turned out to be too late for Davis. But when the community gathered to celebrate his life, his family and church used his funeral to encourage others to get vaccinated.
WFTV-TV in Orlando and Florida Today report that Faith Temple Christian Center in Rockledge partnered with the state of Florida to set up a COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinic prior to Davis' wake and funeral last weekend.
According to Florida Today, Davis was a family man who had recently welcomed five nieces and nephews into his home to help out during a family crisis. But in July, Davis, 28, fell ill.
His wife, Charnese, had been vaccinated, but he still remained hesitant about the science behind the shot. He tested positive for the virus on a Sunday in late July, and just days later, he was transported to a local hospital.
"He was losing his breath just by getting up. I was like, this is not normal, you need extra help," Charnese Davis told ABC News.
Marquis Davis was eventually placed on a respirator. He spent six days in the hospital before doctors determined that he would not recover from the illness.
Before he died, Marquis Davis told his wife that he had changed his mind about the vaccine.
"He was in the hospital. He said, 'Bae, I'm going to get the vaccine when I get out of here.' So he was going to get it. I was like 'Good, I'm so happy you said that, but it's too late,'" Charnese Davis told WFTV.
Marquis Davis died on July 26. Faith Temple Christian Center Pastor Shaun Ferguson later approached the Davis family about offering vaccines and COVID-19 testing at the funeral as a way to encourage the community to seek out a shot.
"The family immediately saw this as an opportunity. His death, for many, is an eye-opening opportunity for people to get vaccinated. This tells you that this could happen to anyone, it could happen to me," Ferguson told Florida Today.
The church hosted a testing and vaccination event on Friday and Saturday, offering the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to those in attendance.
Florida Today reports that several people in attendance took advantage.
"I was waiting to see how everybody was feeling about it. And seeing somebody young die like that, it's kind of like, OK, let's get it done," Faith Temple Christian minister of music Dre Brayboi told Florida Today. "A lot of Facebook are saying they're going to get it now."
On its Facebook page, Faith Temple Christian Center said it extended hours for the vaccination clinic due to high demand.
"Don't wait too late," Charnese Davis told WFTV. "Get it now, get it while you can."