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ICU visit can be wake-up call for unvaccinated

Amid a nationwide rollout of covid-19 vaccines, large swaths of the U.S. population have delayed or resisted getting shots.

And some Americans have since come to regret holding off.

"We just thought we were young and pretty healthy and if we did get it, it wouldn't be too bad. It was (bad)."

Just outside Little Rock, Arkansas, Tate Ezzi and his wife Christine were expecting their sixth child last may when both fell ill with serious COVID-19 symptoms.

At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) hospital in Little Rock, Christine was put on a ventilator and then on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation or ECMO, a machine that pumps blood outside a patient's body to an artificial heart and lungs.

Ezzi said at some point Christine lost the pregnancy.

"We just know the baby was stillborn. All we know is the oxygen just dropped too low at some point."

Meanwhile Tate started experiencing his own symptoms of COVID-19 and said he spent eight or nine days in the hospital.

"And I told them, any kind of treatment you can give me, any kind, any experimental treatments, whatever. You've got to get me better. Because I already knew she wasn't doing very well at the time."

UAMS CEO Stephen Mette told Reuters too many Arkansans delayed getting vaccinated for various reasons. Unfortunately, it often takes a hospital visit to change minds.

"There's considerable resistance to getting the vaccine in the public. [flash] And I have to say that all the patients who are hospitalized here, upon recovery, if they have not been vaccinated, tell us that indeed, they change their mind and would get vaccinated once they're discharged."

Of course, not everyone comes around.

"I started having difficulty breathing and my O2 started dropping, so I thought I better get to the hospital. And so they took me into the E.R. and then evaluated me and then brought me up to this unit."

Brian Parisi spent more than a week in the ICU at Providence St. Joseph in Orange, California battling the novel coronavirus. The unvaccinated 53-year-old told Reuters he's not sure the vaccine would have helped.

"In retrospect, I honestly don't know if it (vaccine) would have made a difference because there are adverse reactions that can come from the vaccine."

Critical care pulmonologist Dr. Jooby Babu disagrees.

"It's quite obvious that people who are vaccinated are not getting symptomatic disease and much less likely so to get admitted with Covid."

After spending most of May and June in the hospital, Christine Ezzi is still weak but improving daily.

Tate Ezzi said he now has a message for his fellow Arkansans about the vaccines.

"I want people to be able to make their own choice, of course, but I do want to just tell my story because if it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody."