By Marlee Ginter

DAVIS (CBS13) — A Northern California man is now urging those who aren’t vaccinated to get the shots. The once anti-vaxxer is changing his tune after a close call in the hospital.

At one time, Saul Torres went as far as to call COVID a lie that was drummed up by the government.  It’s something his family agreed on until the virus ran rampant through their home and put Torres in the hospital.

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He considers himself lucky to be alive but is reminding others they may not end up as lucky as him.

“I’m walking, but it’s hard right now,” said Torres. “When I showed up to the hospital, she checked my weight and I lost 42 pounds in 20 days.”

The 42-year-old construction worker thought he was young, strong, and healthy.  Not only did he think the COVID vaccine wasn’t necessary, he didn’t even believe the virus was real.

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“But right now it’s different because now I know,” said Torres.

Dr. Yesenia Ramos, with UC Davis Medical Center says Torres’ COVID-19 diagnosis lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder triggered by viral and bacterial infections.  Dr. Ramos says it could’ve been prevented had he gotten vaccinated.

“It’s sad to hear how he didn’t have someone to go to to talk about the vaccine and clarify the questions he had against this vaccine,” said Dr. Ramos.

“When I came out of the hospital, I see everything different.  Everything looks different. I love my kids, I love everybody because I got another opportunity. So I recommend, go get the vaccine. You know, don’t wait. Don’t wait,” said Torres.

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The vaccination rates among minorities are considerably low with only 30 percent of Latinos in Sacramento County fully vaccinated.  Torres is now on a mission to educate more people about the vaccine and plans to get his shot when he’s healthier in a few weeks.