COVID-19 survivor who declined vaccine and almost died from coronavirus testifies before House panel

WASHINGTON — Texan Joshua Garza said he decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine in early January when he became eligible because he thought he didn’t need it.

Garza said he felt wearing masks and social distancing was enough – a decision he said he now deeply regrets.

“As a result of not following through with the vaccination, I ended up contracting the virus in late January and endured a four-month stay in the hospital resulting in a double lung transplant to save my life,” said Garza. “It’s a decision that I have to live with for the rest of my life.”

Garza’s testimony was part of a House panel hearing Thursday meant to increase public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.

It comes with just days until President Biden’s original deadline of getting 70 percent of adults at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which seems unlikely to be met, due to declining daily vaccination rates.

Some people have said they are hesitant to get the shot because they don’t trust the vaccine development process or they feel the vaccine itself is too new.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who served in the Trump administration, urged Congress not to politicize vaccine hesitancy and to instead help inform people of the science-based facts.

“I’ve heard plenty of people say, I won’t get vaccinated because I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust the healthcare system and when we focus on this mistrust, versus focusing on political ideology, we win people over,” said Adams.

Actress Sophia Bush was another high-profile speaker who testified in an effort to encourage people to get the shot.

“Vaccines are acts of love made possible by innovation,” said Bush.

Garza said he hoped his story will change the hearts and minds of those who are still hesitant to get vaccinated.

“If I could change my decision not to go forward with the vaccination in early January, I would,” said Garza.

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