Jesse Saperstein, a thirty-eight-year-old man on the autism spectrum, wants to make a difference during the pandemic by encouraging the public to become vaccinated in hopes of extinguishing COVID-19. His video has gone viral.
ALBANY, NY, April 01, 2021 /Neptune100/ — Jesse Saperstein is a thirty-eight-year-old man on the autism spectrum who is burdened by many phobias that include Styrofoam, spiders, and of course . . . online dating. But one thing he is certainly not afraid of is the Coronavirus vaccine. Jesse wants to make a difference during the pandemic by encouraging the public to become vaccinated in hopes of extinguishing COVID-19. On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, Jesse followed his dream of creating a public-service announcement about the importance of filming the second dose of his Moderna vaccine. It is his hope to motivate many people who are skeptical about receiving the vaccine but still have an open mind. His video is titled Man with Autism Receives Second Vaccine Dose and Dances with Joy in the Clinic! The YouTube link is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U85vE82PSrc&t=57sm, which is already building momentum at over 4,600 views. On the TikTok site, Laugh Compilation (laugh_comp), it went viral at nearly 100,000 views but was removed due to the public’s hypersensitivity toward needles. Unfortunately, Jesse has been receiving a large number of bullying and hateful comments on his Public Facebook Page from anti-vaxxers while being called names like “retard and oaf.” Others have falsely accused him of working for or being exploited by “Big Pharma.”
The catalyst for filming this PSA came from the persistent misinformation, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that deaths are extremely rare. As he states in the footage, “In my opinion, over 500,000 deaths, the millions more mourning their absence, and the loss of so much of what we’ve held dear . . . is more than enough!” Jesse is also haunted by the many personal stories of people affected by the pandemic. He has mentored a young man with autism, who recently lost his father at age 60, after contracting COVID during his service as an Emergency Medical Technician. He is trying to spread the message that the vaccine will give everybody much more of a fighting chance even if they happen to contract COVID-19.
As a child, it was not uncommon for Jesse to have outbursts while in the throes of autism. His favorite mantra is, “You are an adult first and somebody with a disability second.” But when he received the second dose of the Moderna vaccination, Jesse decided to put normalcy and self-control on the sidelines by not holding back how he truly felt! After giving a poignant speech about the critical importance of being vaccinated and receiving the brief, nearly painless injection, Jesse leapt out of his chair with the pent-up joy that comes from knowing that the Old Normal is closer than ever! He is now on a quest to encourage the rest of the public to become vaccinated by sharing his post-vaccination journey. Like most vaccine recipients, Jesse’s “suffering” consisted of barely two days of mild, flu-like symptoms and a sore shoulder. Any temporary discomfort caused by the side effects pales in comparison to what society has been through for over a year! The metaphor he uses is, “Sometimes humanity has to get sick before we can start to feel better.”
For the past twenty-one years, Jesse has been donating his blood in increments of two months. The blood drives have always provided a haven from an often-judgmental world, and he felt accepted by the phlebotomists. Last summer, he worked with the CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, on a social media campaign to replenish the blood supply in hospitals, especially if it is the antibody-enriched plasma harvested from survivors of COVID-19. Some of Jesse’s other unusual accomplishments are as follows:
On the date of Tuesday, April 2, 2019 Jesse had the honor of being included as one of the thirty-plus American heroes profiled within the anthology, “American Spirit,” produced by New York Times bestselling author, Taya Kyle and Jim DeFelice. On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, he appeared on the Dr. Phil Show after successfully pitching the producers to advocate for his friend, David Elmore Smith, who was in dire need of resources to combat his morbid obesity. And on Thursday, August 27, 2020, Jesse was one of twenty-five citizens in Albany presented with the Community Champions Award for his litter collection to benefit the bus company of the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) and raise awareness for Convalescent Plasma.
Jesse visits schools on a regular basis and has been successful in wiping out bullying or at least dramatically alleviating it with every presentation. He was part of the “Keeping it Real” project (www.projectkeepitreal.com) with New York University (NYU) that helped introduce a new anti-bullying curriculum to New York City public schools. He has spoken in front of the United Nations and the Mall of America in Minneapolis, among other venues.
He is the author of the memoir, Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters, released in April 2010. His second book, Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood, was launched in August 2014. Both books are published by Penguin Group (USA). Jesse moved to Albany in June 2015 to live in his first apartment as an independent adult. He serves as the Media and Activities Liaison for the College Experience that is run by Living Resources, Inc. and the College of Saint Rose. The College Experience (www.thecollegeexperience.org) is a program that gives individuals with disabilities the ability to attend a mainstream college with a modified curriculum and provides life skills as well as employment training.