The leader of a Hawaii anti-vax group caught COVID-19 and almost died. He now supports vaccines and wants his group's protests to stop.

·2 min read
A poster shows a cartoon of a woman with a hibiscus flower in her hair wearing a blue mask, reading: "wear face protection."
A poster in an airport in Honolulu, Hawaii. AP Photo/Caleb Jones
  • The founder of a Hawaii group opposing COVID-19 rules and vaccine mandates has asked people to stop.

  • Chris Wikoff, who was recently hospitalized with COVID-19, previously dismissed it as "a little flu."

  • He told local media he is considering getting vaccinated now.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The cofounder of a Hawaiian group protesting vaccine mandates and COVID-19 rules is now calling people to end the cause after being hospitalized with the disease himself.

Chris Wikoff, 66, said he no longer wanted to participate in the group and asked for his name to be removed from the members' list, Hawaii News Now reported Monday.

"I want to mind my own business and isolate," he told Hawaii News Now.

Wikoff cofounded the Aloha Freedom Coalition in October 2020 in response to a lockdown order which the group said was ruining business and threatening individual liberties, Hawaii News Now reported.

The group now opposes vaccine mandates and vaccine passports. On Sunday it called the White House "traitors" for considering vaccine passports for air travel.

Wikoff said he previously believed vaccine mandates and passports seemed "over-the-top totalitarian control" because he didn't believe the disease was that serious, Hawai News Now reported.

"We were told the COVID virus was not that deadly, it was nothing more than a little flu," he told Hawaii News Now.

"Well, I can tell you: it's more than the little flu."

Wikoff's change of position came after he was hospitalized after catching COVID-19 in August, per Hawaii News Now. "I was afraid I was going to die," he told the outlet.

He urged people to stop participating in the protests and rallies his group was organizing, including those taking part outside of Hawaii's Lieutenant Governor Josh Green's house, Hawaii News Now reported.

"Before I thought Josh Green was exaggerating the situation and after my experience, he sounds very rational to me," he said, per Hawaii News Now.

A picture of Wikoff, who according to Hawaii News Now still needs help breathing, can be seen here:

Wikoff says now he is considering getting vaccinated because his family and doctors recommended it, Hawaii News Now reported.

"Probably getting COVID again would be more dangerous than getting the reaction from the vaccines," he told Hawaii News Now, adding: "The COVID vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective."

In a statement, the Aloha Freedom Coalition said it would "continue to fight against blanket mandates and for an individual's right to choose," Hawaii News Now reported.

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