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After COVID almost killed him, a Colorado fitness coach wishes he listened to his mom's advice

Bill Phillips sat down with his mom to talk about his near-death experience and the advice he wishes he would have taken.

LAKEWOOD, Colo — A mom encouraged her son to get the COVID-19 vaccine like she did, and he didn't do it. 

That decision landed fitness coach Bill Phillips in the hospital for two months. He lost 70 pounds.

"This whole thing could have been avoided with a vaccination," Suzanne Phillips said to her son, Bill. 

"'Cause if you get vaccinated you don't have to go through this," Bill told her. 

Bill was once a fitness coach and the epitome of strength. The 56-year-old didn't think he needed the COVID-19 vaccine, and that decision almost killed him.

Bill said he caught the virus the first time in January 2020.  A test found he had antibodies, so he decided to not get vaccinated. He caught COVID-19 again in June 2021.

"I wasn't against the vaccine," he said. "I just wasn't for it for me that day."

He sat down with his mom on Monday to talk about his near-death experience and the advice from her he wishes he would have taken. 

Suzanne couldn't wait to get the vaccine, a very different attitude than Bill's.

"You took the shot with your chin up and your chest out and being a good citizen," Bill told her. 

"Look at me! I am helping to save lives too," she said. "I was very, very happy."

"Your confidence in the vaccine was compelling and other members of our family got the vaccine," said Bill to Suzanne. "I just had the same type of confidence in the antibodies that I thought I had from getting COVID before."

Suzanne said seeing her son in the ICU hooked up to a ventilator was one of the most difficult things she has ever had to go through. Doctors told her Bill had a 1% chance of living. She wishes her son had followed her example and gotten vaccinated. 

"Well, I am grounded for like a year," Bill joked. 

"I hope people get vaccinated," Suzanne said. "I hope they value themselves and other people close to them enough to get vaccinated."

"I am going to take your advice the next time something comes up," Bill told his mom.

Credit: Phillips Family

Since sharing his story on 9NEWS, Bill said he has received hundreds of messages from people who have said they decided to get vaccinated after hearing his battle with COVID-19. 

Maria Phillips, Bill's wife, said she also got COVID-19 in November 2020 and recovered at home. Because she had it once, she believed she was immune. She decided to get vaccinated when her husband was in the ICU.

Phillips plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine on his birthday in September. 

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