CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A truck claiming to be from a funeral home was emblazoned with a blunt message Sunday while driving around Bank of America Stadium, where the Charlotte Panthers were playing the New Orleans Saints: "Don't get vaccinated."
It remains unclear who might be behind the scare tactic urging people to finally get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The website for the "Wilmore Funeral Home" on the truck takes people to a site that simply says, "Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon."
That landing page redirects people to StarMed's COVID-19 vaccine web page, which contains vaccine scheduling information and a lengthy list of commonly asked questions.
Dr. Arin Piramzadian, StarMed Healthcare's chief medical officer, is hoping the unconventional strategy pays off as the highly contagious delta variant continues to infect hundreds of unvaccinated people.
In an interview Monday morning, Piramzadian said he knows little about the marketing stunt in uptown Charlotte. It was not another quirky tactic from StarMed, though, which has a bold, yet lighthearted flair on social media that's often poking fun at people who choose to ignore vaccinations or coronavirus guidelines.
"If this saves one person's life by getting vaccinated, I'm 100% for it," Piramzadian told the Observer.
"We know that 99% of people who are ending up in the hospital and dying are unvaccinated," added Piramzadian, who first saw a photo of the truck on Facebook on Monday morning. "If that statistic does not scare people... I'm not sure what does. Perhaps a dark humor aspect such as this one does catch someone's attention."
Piramzadian does not know who paid for and deployed the truck.
Spokespeople for Atrium Health and Novant Health said neither hospital system was involved with the truck.
Thousands of Panthers fans could have seen the truck traversing uptown Charlotte. Images, accompanied by cautious laughter and praise, have since gone viral on social media.