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Vaccine skepticism landed me in a Baltimore hospital: Don’t make the same mistake | READER COMMENTARY

Listen, “No vax” folks: The COVID-19 virus attacked my healthy body and attacked my lungs. I spent a total of 14 days in Maryland, where I live when I’m not in New Jersey, at Northwest Hospital.

I had pneumonia, my average temperature was 103 degrees, I lost over 15 pounds. I had nonstop blood clot shots, two CT scans, steroids, my vitals checked every three hours, 24 hours on oxygen and five days of remdesivir intravenous injection (the same medication they gave former President Donald Trump). I was close to death. Allah had a different plan.


I am now home and off of oxygen. Soon, I’ll start lung rehabilitation, which may last two months. Hopefully, it’ll be less.

Yes, I was skeptical about this COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning. There were so many stories about this disease and where it originally began. Some say the virus developed in China or Europe. But from Italy to America, people were dying, and I felt suspicious about the whole thing.


I never thought one moment about the science but instead about the political ramifications of it all. I thought this is germ warfare gone amok and somehow it backfired. I also wanted to figure who benefits from this pandemic.

Pharmaceutical companies lined up to create a cure with Pfizer leading the way to billions of dollars in profits. I said to myself the more hype and hysteria the more the pharmaceutical money tree will grow. So after calculating all that, why should I believe anything out there on this “pandemic watch”? Boy, I was so wrong.

So, from March 2020 until now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker, there have been more than 41 million cases of COVID and nearly 670,000 Americans have lost their lives. Worldwide, there have been nearly 4.5 million COVID-19 deaths.

Then came the vaccine to fight COVID-19 and to save lives. I was not convinced nor was I going to believe this fast-track solution was real. Was I to believe this husband and wife team — Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, who helped found and ran the Germany biotech company BioNTech — had the answer? Nope.

I was still not there on taking this vaccine without more data and proof it can save lives. But then, I did more research and realized that the German BioNTech company and the researchers had been working on a vaccine cure for viruses years before COVID-19 was discovered. That research was just adapted for this new threat.

Then data continued to show fewer and fewer deaths, fewer hospitalizations and fewer people on ventilators. About three weeks before I contracted the virus, I was assured of my own research that this vaccine works. I said to myself, I will take the vaccine but I never did and instead kept living a risky life. That failure to act almost cost me my life.

Now, I guess I’m a poster child for the vaccine. My message to everyone is go get the shot.

Salaam Ismial, Owings Mills


The writer is the director of the National United Youth Council, Inc.

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