Advance with MUSC Health

Unvaccinated COVID Patient Inspires Loved Ones to Get the Jab

Advance With MUSC Health
October 19, 2021
Alex Bloser

At first, his doctor thought it was bronchitis. But by the end of the week, 32-year-old Alex Bloser‘s illness only progressed. His symptoms — cough, chills, fever, and fatigue — spelled out COVID, so he took a test. It came back positive.

“After that, I stayed home and quarantined,” says Bloser, who was unvaccinated at the time. “But gradually I started coughing up stuff and one morning I woke up and couldn’t breathe.”

Soon after, he was admitted to MUSC Health, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed in the intensive care unit (ICU). When his oxygen levels improved, he was placed in a regular room but by that night, they had dropped again to dangerously low levels. He was returned to the ICU.

“They kept giving me antibiotics, steroids, and they put me on blood thinners since COVID causes blood clots,” Bloser says. “And one morning, I woke up, I could breathe on my own. It was kind of strange.”

Akex Bloser in hospital bedIn the hospital for 14 days total, Bloser remembers feeling like he was going to die. “Especially when you can't breathe at all. I mean, I couldn't even move — I couldn't get out of bed.”

Anytime he moved to sit up or cough, his oxygen levels would drop again. It felt paralyzing.

Two weeks of little movement weakened him. He lost 35 pounds while in the hospital and, now at home recovering, still struggles to walk up the stairs. He gets short of breath, and has a hard time catching his breath. He fears the long-term effects of COVID — that’s why he’s decided to get vaccinated.

“I was not vaccinated before — I was totally against it but I'm definitely going to get it now,” he says. “I have to wait 90 days for the antibodies to get out of my system, but I'm 100 percent going to get vaccinated now.”

MUSC internal medicine and primary care physician Dr. Sam McNulty says that this is a recurring sentiment. “Every single unvaccinated patient I've had that has been admitted to the hospital or even been very sick at home has stated they absolutely wished they had been vaccinated sooner.”

Hearing a lot of conflicting bits of information about the vaccine is what caused Bloser’s trepidation.

“You just see everything on the news. It's this, it's that — you think people get sick from it. So I didn't know what to believe,” he says. “But I guess when you get COVID, and you think you're going to die, you want to see if it'll work.”

When loved ones heard about his experience, they made their appointments, too. “I posted everything I was going through on Instagram and Facebook and about 20 of my friends went and got vaccinated.”

If he had to do it over again, Bloser would get all the protection available to him in order to keep himself and his friends and family safe. That’s his advice to anyone reading this, too. “Get vaccinated,” he urges. “I'm sure I'm going to have long-lasting conditions from COVID. I'm sure my lungs are never going to be right again.”

McNulty says that getting COVID as an unvaccinated person is like rolling the dice.

“If you are young and healthy, that dice has many different sides and most outcomes will be favorable, however you are still taking a chance and could end up like Alex. The vaccine essentially eliminates all the bad outcomes and, while you can still be infected, the severity will be much less.”

Learn more about the safety of the vaccine and make an appointment to receive it or call 843-792-1414.