The Rev. Jesse Jackson was released from a Chicago facility Wednesday, a month after he was hospitalized for a breakthrough COVID-19 infection that resolved relatively quickly, and following intensive physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
The 79-year-old civil rights leader had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and family members said his case wasn’t severe. His 77-year-old wife, Jacqueline, had not been vaccinated and she required oxygen and a brief intensive care unit stay before she was released earlier this month.
Jackson was released from The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab on Wednesday, and briefly spoke to reporters, accompanied by doctors and therapists who worked with him at the facility.
Jackson said he did not have any shortness of breath or respiratory issues, but it did affect his Parkinson’s and his ability to walk and talk.
“The shot protected me from death,” he said of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jackson advocated for vaccination
Doctors and other medical staff described a regimen of about 60 to 90 minutes of daily physical therapy, along with occupational and speech therapy, saying the civil rights leader, who has remained active since disclosing his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2017, was full of energy and upbeat during his treatment.
Before he left the hospital for home, he playfully confirmed with the medical team: “So I can march again?”
Despite his illness and gallbladder surgery this year, Jackson has remained active and continued travelling in his advocacy for voting rights and other causes.
While Jesse Jackson has advocated for COVID-19 vaccinations for months, particularly for Black people, he told The Associated Press last month that his wife of nearly 60 years wasn’t vaccinated because she had an undisclosed “pre-existing condition” that worried family members.
Generally, public health experts strongly encourage people with existing health conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, to get vaccinated as they are at increased risk for severe illness.
However, since her release from the hospital, Jacqueline Jackson has become a “true advocate for everyone” to get vaccinated, according to Jonathan Jackson.
Earlier this year, Jesse Jackson was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery followed by physical therapy for Parkinson’s. He has remained active and continued traveling and advocating for voting rights and other causes.