'Complete Anti-Vaxxer' Urges People to Get Shots After COVID Left Her Bed-Bound

A woman who described herself as once being a "complete anti-vaxxer" is now urging unvaccinated people to get their shots after she became severely ill with COVID-19.

Saja Ali, 31, from a suburb of Manchester in northwest England, said her views on the issue had changed following her experience with the disease and she is now speaking out to raise awareness.

The mother of three contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, in February 2021, and rapidly became severely ill.

At the time, Ali was unvaccinated. The woman told the Manchester Evening News (MEN) on Sunday that she had been hesitant to get the shot because of certain things she had read online.

"I had not been jabbed. I was proper against it back then," Ali told MEN. "For me, it was all because it was new. It was a new vaccine and I was hearing a lot of conspiracy theories.

"At the time my husband was also really against it. I did not think twice about not having a jab. Then I got [COVID-19] really, really bad."

Ali said the disease left her bed-bound for three weeks and she didn't leave home for a whole month.

"It was awful," she said. "Luckily I did not need hospital treatment because there was nothing wrong with my lungs and breathing. It totally changed my mind."

Her dad also contracted the virus around the same time and he needed hospital treatment.

"We were prepared for the worst with him," she said. "He was in hospital for 11 days and needed help."

"It made me think. I have three kids and it just made me realize. I believed what people were saying but I felt regret at not having the jab."

After recovering from the virus, Ali got both her shots. The 31-year-old later tested positive again for COVID-19 just before Christmas amid a huge surge in cases in the U.K. But she said she felt "normal and fine" the second time around, which she put down to the effect of the vaccines.

"A lot of people are still claiming the vaccine doesn't work. The vaccine does work and does prevent worse symptoms. I did not feel as ill this time. I felt a bit tired but nothing to stop me doing what I would normally do in a day. It was nothing like it was back in February."

"I don't want it to come across as being offensive, but I do not want people to take a chance. I believe the vaccine won't stop people from being poorly, but it will help prevent you from falling really ill and needing hospital treatment."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends vaccination against COVID-19 for people aged 5 years and older.

The approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are safe and reduce the risks of COVID-19, including the risk of severe illness and death, according to the CDC.

While the vaccines reduce the risk of infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID—what's known as a breakthrough infection. In these people, symptoms tend to be less severe than in people who have not been vaccinated.

A woman getting vaccinated
Stock image showing a woman who is about to receive a vaccination. A woman who described herself as once being a “complete anti-vaxxer” is now urging unvaccinated people to get their shots after she became severely ill with COVID-19. iStock