22-Year-Old Who Didn't Think He Needed Vaccine Dies of COVID After Ignoring Mom's Plea

Joshua Bradstreet-Contreras died on Friday in New Orleans from COVID-19 at age 22. His mother said he didn't think he needed to get the vaccine, despite her pleading with him to do so.

In a story that aired on a local television network on Monday, his mother—Tarsha Bradstreet—said it's now her mission to help parents convince their kids to get the shots.

"Don't stop talking to your kids. Don't stop asking them to be vaccinated," Bradstreet said to local ABC affiliate WGNO.

Joshua, or Josh as he was called, was a dog trainer until the pandemic. More than a month ago, WGNO interviewed Josh about his new job at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit restaurant in New Orleans that serves Southern food made and sold by at-risk youths.

"I've always loved cooking. I love to cook every day, but I've never considered it as an actual career opportunity until I came to Café Reconcile," Bradstreet-Contreras said during the interview.

Not too long after that story aired on WGNO, he became sick.

His uncle, Cedric Daniels, had come to New Orleans for a visit. He, like his nephew, felt he didn't need a vaccine. Daniels is 37, while Bradstreet-Contreras was 22.

The Associated Press in an August 4 story that featured an interview with Daniels quoted him as saying that he and his nephew were both "as healthy as a horse." However, days later, Bradstreet-Contreras was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance after he was struggling to breathe.

Soon, he was placed on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. Around that time, Daniels began feeling weak, his vision blurred vision, and his breath became short.

Daniels tested positive for the virus and received oxygen for a week while recovering from pneumonia.

"They're talking about putting tubes down your throat possibly if your oxygen doesn't go up within the next hour, and that is frightening," Daniels told AP from a hospital bed. He eventually was released from the hospital but still required oxygen at home.

"I am now a huge advocate for doctor's orders," Daniels said. "They think we ought to get vaccinated, I think we ought to get vaccinated."

Tarsha Bradstreet said she was vaccinated and kept telling her son to do the same. Soon after Josh started experiencing the early symptoms of COVID-19, Café Reconcile called and said a co-worker had tested positive, and he needed to go get a test.

"Josh hardly goes anywhere since COVID hit, so he didn't think he needed the vaccine," Bradstreet told AP.

In an interview conducted at a table in Cafe Reconcile for WGNO after Josh's death, his mother recalled the days leading up to his hospitalization.

"He kept getting worse...[he was] panting real quick to where he couldn't get up, he couldn't move," she said. "He loved everybody. He had such a sweet, kind soul. Josh went around collecting friends like flowers."

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A 22-year-old who felt he was too young and healthy to need a COVID vaccine is dead from the virus. His mother's message is for parents to keep talking to reluctant youths about getting the shot. Getty Images