Courtesy: UW Medicine

Southern Oregon man becomes vaccine advocate after battle with COVID-19

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. —A Douglas County man, who nearly lost his life from COVID-19, is urging those unvaccinated to get the shot. We’re learning more from the southern Oregon COVID-19 survivor speaking out Monday.

Courtesy: UW Medicine

For 47-year-old Howard Breidenbach, retirement was right around the corner, after working hard to grow his trucking company.  However, his life quickly changed lanes when he caught COVID-19.

“It wasn’t just the flu, it wasn’t what I thought it was, it was no conspiracy, Covid is a killer,” said Breidenbach.

In late July, as his fight with covid progressed, he was transferred from a Roseburg hospital to the University of Washington Medical Center Montlake. That’s more than a 5-hour drive away from his Myrtle Creek home. There, he says he felt like there was no hope.

“If anybody wants to know what hell is like sitting down in that room down there with no voice, you can’t advocate for yourself, you can’t speak, my mind was shot,” said Breidenbach.

He says he didn’t get the vaccine because he was waiting for more testing to be done on it, but he says he had plenty of chances that he let pass by.

“I had the opportunity to get vaccinated in May or April, there was no line at my local pharmacy,” said Breidenbach.

After months in the hospital, and a whole lot of support from his wife Tonja, and the medical staff there, Breidenbach started to turn the corner with his recovery.

Courtesy: UW Medicine

“I owe several people my thanks and my gratitude in this hospital alone, hundreds of doctors and nurses and staff that I don’t remember, they sat beside me night and day,” said Breidenbach.

Now with a second chance at life, his message is clear, get vaccinated. He says it took him laying in a hospital bed to change his perspective.

“I am gonna tell them all, that they need to be vaccinated, every one of them and every person I see, I’m gonna share my story, ” said Breidenbach.

Breidenbach is now home recovering, working to get back to full strength.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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