COVID-19 survivor, double-lung transplant recipient part of campaign to boost vaccine rates

NOW: COVID-19 survivor, double-lung transplant recipient part of campaign to boost vaccine rates

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Health groups are hoping one woman's experience with COVID-19 can help boost the number of people vaccinated in Milwaukee County.

Carmen Lerma, the director for corporate and community events for UMOS, said nearly a year after leaving the hospital because of COVID-19, she is still recovering but grateful for a second chance at life.

"I got diagnosed with COVID and I ended up being in the hospital four months, double-lung transplant, double pneumonia," Lerma said. "I put that all in God's hands and said if you want me to still be here and doing things for the community, I'm going to do that."

Now her story is part of an ad campaign to get more people vaccinated. One poster at a bus stop at 27th and Forest Home in Milwaukee reads in Spanish, 'Protect our community, get vaccinated.'

"My goal is to try to get as many people to listen to my story so that they can understand the purpose of getting vaccinated and to make sure that they're taking care of themselves," Lerma told CBS 58.

The posters include QR codes that take you to the Wisconsin Immunization Advocacy Coalition website. You can find that website here:

The campaign spans across 20 Milwaukee County Transit System buses and four bus shelters. The coalition promoting the campaign said stories like Carmen's are ultimately what will connect with the community.

"We wanted an approach that would reach everyone," Coalition of Wisconsin Aging and Health Groups president and CEO Rob Gundermann said in an interview. "We were adamant that the messages had to come from the community, that we weren't going to dictate what the messages were."

Lerma hopes the messages continue to save lives.

"Educate yourself and make sure that you always think about that person next to you," Lerma said.

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