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"Don't wait": Anti-vaxxer who suffered with COVID now strongly urging everyone to get their shots

Half of U.S. vaccinated against COVID-19
Half of U.S. vaccinated against COVID-19 09:05

Davis, California — A Northern California man is now urging people who aren't vaccinated to get the shots. The one-time anti-vaxxer is changing his tune after a close call in the hospital.

Saul Torres once went as far as to call COVID-19 a lie that was drummed up by the government. It's something his family agreed on until the virus ran rampant through their home and put Torres in the hospital.

He considers himself lucky to be alive but is reminding others they may not end up as lucky.

"I'm walking, but it's hard right now," said Torres. "When I showed up to the hospital, she checked my weight and I lost 42 pounds in 20 days."

The 42-year-old construction worker thought he was young, strong, and healthy.  Not only did he think the COVID vaccine wasn't necessary, he didn't even believe the virus was real.

"But right now it's different because now I know," said Torres.

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Saul Torres being treated for COVID-19 in UC Davis Medical Center. UC Davis Health / CBS Sacramento

Dr. Yesenia Ramos, with the University of California-Davis Medical Center, says Torres' COVID-19 lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder triggered by viral and bacterial infections. Ramos says it could've been prevented if Torres had gotten vaccinated.

"It's sad to hear how he didn't have someone to go to talk to about the vaccine and clarify the questions he had against this vaccine," Ramos said.

"When I came out of the hospital, I see everything different.  Everything looks different. I love my kids. I love everybody because I got another opportunity. So I recommend, go get the vaccine. You know, don't wait. Don't wait," said Torres.

Vaccination rates among minorities in Sacramento County are low, with only 30 percent of Latinos fully vaccinated.

Torres is now on a mission to educate more people about the vaccine and plans to get his when he's healthier in a few weeks.

-- This story first appeared on CBS Sacramento.

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