KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As hospitals grapple with increased COVID-19 caseloads, patients who have recovered yet are still struggling with symptoms are expressing regret over not getting vaccinated.
Medical professionals said the latest round of patients skew younger and often have no significant medical history.
On Tuesday, Research Medical Center gave FOX4 unfettered access to one of those patients and his doctors. The patient was 39-year-old Antwuan Dunnigan from Kansas City. He has four kids between the age of three and 14.
When Dunnigan speaks, it’s clear that his faith is important to him. That’s a big piece of this because when his COVID-19 infection hit him in mid-July, that’s when he realized his spiritual skepticism on vaccinations was somewhat off.
He still feels echoes of the illness.
“I still feel it in my chest from time to time when I take deep breaths. And then, from time to time, I get a little fatigued or whatever,” Dunnigan said.
Dunnigan said he didn’t realize it was COVID right away when he started feeling symptoms.
“I started feeling a little weaker, and I wasn’t able to stand,” he said. “I started getting dizzy.”
“That’s a scary thing because you’re like, ‘I’m breathing. My body’s doing what it should to breath back and forth, but my oxygen levels are still dropping,'” Dunnigan said.
He knew his kids were worried about their dad as he was hospitalized.
“They was wanting me to come home. They seen me when I got into the ambulance. They were kind of concerned and worried,” Dunnigan said.
Dunnigan, a security guard and family man, wasn’t vaccinated.
Dr. Joel McKinsey, an infectious disease specialist at Research Medical Center, said the question about vaccination status has become one of the most important questions on his patient checklist.
“I ask everyone admitted partly because it helps me project what to expect — because people who have been vaccinated are less likely to end up in a very severe condition,” McKinsey said.
Dunnigan said before his diagnosis, the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated was complex.
“It was about my faith and me trusting in God. I had to realize how to direct my faith and how I trust in God because I know when I count on him, he won’t steer me wrong,” Dunnigan said.
“And I know that he’ll steer me right. So I have to trust and say, ‘Lord, which one that you want me to take and when would you want me to take it?’ because I had to realize that it’s not just for myself but it’s for other people, too, also that they might not catch it,” Dunnigan said.
Doctors at Research Medical Center also say that it continues to be true that patients are surprised to learn how long recovery time is for COVID-19. Conditions like low energy and brain fog can persist for weeks and sometimes months.