DENVER — In late March, Raul Pero was told he was positive for COVID-19. At 39 years old, Pero had no pre-existing conditions, and told Denver7 he thought his touch with COVID-19 would be like the flu. It wasn't.
"They told me they had to put me on a ventilator and put me in a coma when I was like, 'OK, this is serious,'" Pero said.
He spent the next month on a ventilator. Two months after being admitted he was finally released, losing 50 pounds during his time at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
His only human interaction was with frontline workers.
"They became my family for that time I was awake," Pero told Denver7.
He suffered nerve damage to both of his hands while in a coma. Three weeks after getting out, Pero experienced his first panic attack, fearing the virus could come back.
"I was very terrified. This impacted my family, my friends, my husband. It's not only what I went through, it’s what everyone else went through. I’m still scared it could happen again," Pero explained.
On Thursday, a FDA panel of doctors recommended approval for the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older. After final approval from the FDA, 2.9 million doses of the vaccine will be sent out across the country within 24 hours.
"It means freedom. It means I can go back and enjoy the things I have in life," Pero said of the vaccine.
A team of 21 doctors voted on the vaccine. Four of them voted no. It's unclear why the no votes came in, but many on the panel raised concerns over possible allergic reactions and took issue with giving the shot to 16 and 17 year olds. Pero admits he has questions too.
"To be honest, yeah I wonder is it going to have worse consequences long-term," Pero said.
Despite reservations, this survivor says he'll be in line when it's his turn to get the shot.
"I definitely will get it. I definitely want to have some type of normalcy in my life," Pero told Denver7.