Vaccine Skeptic Changes Mind After Almost Dying of COVID: 'Learn the Facts'

A former vaccine skeptic who spent over a month in a Maryland hospital after catching COVID has changed his mind.

Brent Whalen, a resident of Maryland's Carroll County, had been persuaded by conspiracy theories about the vaccines and was concerned that their long-term safety had not been properly studied.

Whalen did actually end up getting the Johnson & Johnson shot as a requirement for attending a concert. But just one day later, he began to feel ill.

Whalen initially thought his symptoms were side-effects caused by the shot, but eventually his condition deteriorated to the point where he was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

What followed was 36 days at Carroll Hospital Center with COVID, according to Maryland news outlet WBAL-TV 11. Six of those were in the critical care unit.

"It's so hard when you're laying there and you don't know what's going to happen and your nurses are telling you your numbers aren't getting any better," Whalen told the outlet, recalling how he thought he was going to die. Nurses even got in touch with a family member to make sure he had a will.

Whalen recovered from his illness, though he continues to do respiratory therapy at home. He went on to raise thousands of dollars for the medical staff who cared for him.

Regarding the vaccines, he told WBAL-TV 11 that people should "learn the facts" and added that "maybe there are some long-term effects down the road, but I know that this virus will kill you now and you won't have 'down the road.'"

Whalen's case is not the first in which someone has changed their mind about the COVID vaccine after falling ill with the disease.

Earlier this year, a U.K. father of three issued a plea for people to get vaccinated after he was hospitalized and nearly died after catching the virus.

Andrew Pugh, 52, was admitted to hospital in December last year after holding off from getting the vaccine. After spending weeks in intensive care, where he had to receive oxygen through a face mask, Pugh recovered.

"Please people, get your vaccinations. You don't want to end up like me," he told U.K. news outlet Worcester News.

In addition, last month a 26-year-old woman who spent more than half a year in a hospital due to COVID complications urged young people to get vaccinated.

California woman Wynter Ho said that her experience with the virus made her decided to "relay the message that young people my age need to get vaccinated," she told news outlet ABC 7. She had not gotten the vaccine previously as she considered herself healthy.

COVID vaccine
A stock photo shows a person being given a COVID vaccine by a health worker. There have been multiple cases of people changing their minds about COVID vaccines after falling ill with the disease. Tirachard/Getty