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An unvaccinated woman who caught COVID-19 spent more than 2 months in a coma. Now she’s advising people to get their shots.

Dr. Richard Schwartz celebrates after receiving his COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine booster on October 6, 2021.

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • A woman spent more than two months in a coma after contracting COVID-19. 
  • Andrea Arriaga Borges told CNN she didn’t get vaccinated because she was healthy before falling ill. 
  • Borges is now encouraging everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves from severe illness.

A mother of five who was unvaccinated when she tested positive for COVID-19 in May 2021 and spent over two months in a coma told CNN she’s now urging people to get their shots. 

“I was in a coma for 65 days. I spent a total of four-and-a-half months in the hospital,” Andrea Arriaga Borges, 48, told CNN. “I couldn’t walk. I lost my motor skills and my muscle, dropped about 35 pounds, and came home in a wheelchair; re-learned how to walk again.”

Borges told CNN that she was initially opposed to vaccination because she was healthy and had no underlying health conditions. 

She told the outlet that while she was sick, doctors told her family she had a 5% chance of survival.

“I thought I was going to be sick for four or five days and then be fine, and that’s not how it went,” she said. 

She said she had spent months on a feeding tube and was unable to talk. Despite recovering, she says she still has a raspy voice from a tracheotomy. 

“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” Borges told CNN. “The only thing I can say is just have an extra layer of protection and get vaccinated. Get the booster. I feel like everyone should have a choice, but at the same time it’s about protecting yourself and others.”

Last year another unvaccinated woman also ended up in a coma after contracting COVID-19. Bettina Lerman, 69, had tested positive for the virus in September and was expected to be taken off life-support on October 29, the day she woke up.

Lerman had underlying health conditions, her family said. Her son Andrew said she intended to get vaccinated before traveling to Maine from Florida, where she was hospitalized, but ran out of time. While in Maine in September taking care of Andrew’s father, who has cancer, she tested positive for COVID-19. 

Vaccines have been found to significantly cut the risk of severe illness. A real-world study of 23 million people found that it could cut the risk of severe disease by 90%.


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