BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — With Americans waiting for their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine, many health care workers have already been inoculated. A Bay County Doctor has experienced both the illness and the vaccine.

“We’re going to need to get as close 67% of the world’s population being vaccinated, either by having the disease already and living or being vaccinated, that’s 5.2 billion people.” said Doctor Frank Merritt,

Dr. Frank Merritt, an Emergency Room Doctor at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay contracted COVID-19 back in July. His primary care physician prescribed medicine ahead of his formal diagnosis.

“Starting a medicine early still is probably the single best thing you can do is to start before you even get results back. If you and your doctor can do that, that’s probably what saved my life.” said Dr. Merritt.

He says it’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate and affects everyone in a different way.

“My first three days were really like having the flu, I thought it really isn’t a big deal, and I actually got better for about two days but then I went into a second phase which was worse, got better for a day or two, then went into a third phase. In the third week which was the worst, for about three of those seven days I had real severe shortness of breath.” said Dr. Merritt.

Dr. Merritt received the Moderna Vaccine last week and got serious symptoms once again.

“The first 10 hours I felt great, I was able to play with my family outside, I thought nothing of it. And at the 10 hour mark, I had a very bad response, horrible fever, chills, muscle aches, bony aches to the point that those reactions were far worse than when I had COVID.” said Dr. Merritt.

 Dr. Merritt encourages everyone to talk to their doctor about what’s best for them.

“But people that have had COVID, at least severe to moderate COVID probably do really need to wonder if they need the full dose the first time, and if they need the second booster dose. Since you’ve already once again had the primary dose by having the disease in the first place.” said Dr. Merritt.

Many questions about the long term effects of the virus remain unanswered. He says there is evidence to show asymptomatic athletes are experiencing severe long term effects.

“At the three month mark, over 60% of them had some type of inflammation around the heart, and about 42% of them had scarring of the lungs.” said Dr. Merritt.

But Dr. Merritt still stands by his recommendation to get the vaccine if you are able to do so.