‘I was one of the lucky ones’: 27-year-old shares COVID-19 warning with young people

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A 27-year-old, soon-to-be doctor, has a warning for all young adults: You are not invincible to COVID-19.

He’s sharing his story in hopes that people who are not taking this seriously begin to realize they too are at risk.

As a fourth-year medical student, David Vega says he prioritized his health. He thought he was invincible to COVID-19, but his outlook changed one month ago.

“Very, very scary and the most sick I’ve ever felt in my life,” Vega explained.

Vega says he could have done more to protect himself. He wrote about his experience for his fellow Indiana University students and staff, to let them know – this is serious.

“I felt that it would be good to share my story,” he added, “Especially after seeing there are a lot of young people who are not taking it seriously.”

As he detailed his experience, he stated, “Sure, I’ll wash my hands,’ ‘I’ll social distance after that party,’ I thought. Looking back, there were too many opportunities for me to have caught this virus. I did not take my health seriously.

After returning from his two-month long global medicine elective in Africa and a week stay in Florida with friends, he knew something wasn’t right.

“My main symptoms were fever, chills, fatigue, complete muscle and body aches. This lasted about a week, week and a half, and I think that’s the scary part,” said Vega.

He first thought, maybe it’s just a bad case of the flu, but he was wrong. He tested positive for COVID-19 and the next 13 days were unimaginable.

“We’re seeing more and more people admitted to the hospital between ages of 20-44. A lot of those are going to the ICU and being put on ventilators,” explained Vega, “A lot of them are dying, I was one of the lucky ones.”

He continued to detail day by day the symptoms and what he was feeling in his story for the university. He wrote, “After waiting SEVEN ENTIRE DAYS in self-quarantine, I finally received my results: positive for COVID-19, continue self-quarantine for another seven days. Ironically, this arrived an hour before receiving my Match Day residency assignment for emergency medicine at the University of Miami. March 20th was certainly a big day of “results” for me.”

Vega wishes he would have listened, but he’s not alone.

“This is serious business, it’s a serious infection and it can kill people,” said Dr. John Christenson, a Clinical Pediatrics Professor at IU School of Medicine.

Christenson added that he’s witnessed young people believing they’re untouchable by congregating, not wearing masks, and barely social distancing.

“When you look at the number of cases in Indiana, there are more than 4,000 people who have been infected and a large number of people who have died from this. If you look at hospitals nationwide, you’ll find adolescents admitted to those hospitals, in intensive care on ventilators,” said Christenson.

As for Vega, he will soon begin his residency and he has plans to take his battle with COVID-19 as a learning experience as he prepares to help his own patients.

“Seeing the need and seeing now that I have experienced it myself, I understand a lot more about it and have developed some sort of immunity to it, I would say it confirmed my calling even more,” said Vega.

According to the CDC, one out of five people hospitalized from COVID-19 are young adults.

Click here to read Vega’s full warning to young people.

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