Unvaccinated Man Urges People to Get Shots After COVID Nearly Killed Him

A father of three has issued a plea for people to get a COVID vaccination after he became hospitalized and nearly died with the disease.

Andrew Pugh, 52, from the U.K., did not get the vaccine before he fell severely ill last month.

Pugh was admitted to a hospital in Worcestershire on December 5 after his health took a turn for the worse when he caught COVID. What followed was a three-week period in intensive care.

Pugh told local news outlet Worcester News: "I didn't get the vaccine. I thought I was being the hero."

However, his outlook changed after his time in the intensive care unit, where he was receiving 75 percent of his oxygen via a face mask and was struggling to eat or sleep.

Nurses even called Pugh's girlfriend at one stage to tell her there was a 50 percent chance he would not make it through his ordeal.

"If it wasn't for the nurses and the fact I'm a non-smoker I wouldn't be alive—they saved my life," Pugh told Worcester News. "Please people, get your vaccinations. You don't want to end up like me."

On Monday the newspaper reported that Pugh had been moved into another area of the hospital but remained on oxygen as he continues to recover from his infection.

Pugh is not alone in urging people to get a COVID vaccine after becoming ill with the disease. A 31-year-old woman from the U.K. city of Manchester has also encouraged vaccinations despite describing herself as once being a "complete anti-vaxxer."

Saja Ali told local newspaper the Manchester Evening News that although she did not end up in hospital, her illness left her bed–bound for three weeks. "It totally changed my mind," she said.

The U.K. has seen an increase in COVID cases over the past few weeks, driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant. According to U.K. government data, 218,724 people tested positive for COVID on January 4—a record high.

The country recorded 1,269,878 cases over the seven days prior to January 4, marking an increase of over 50 percent from the previous seven days. There had also been 909 deaths over the seven days prior to January 4, marking an increase of 51.8 percent from the previous seven-day period.

In the U.S., President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that people who are vaccinated and boosted "are highly protected" as he remarked on concerns over a record rise in cases.

"The unvaccinated are taking up hospital beds and crowding emergency rooms and intensive care units," he said. "So, please—please, please get vaccinated now."

Hospital bed
A stock photo shows a doctor sitting next to a patient's hospital bed holding the patient's hand. COVID cases have been rising in both the U.S. and U.K. recently. michaeljung/Getty