'I was dying:' Raleigh woman who survived H1N1 flu, COVID-19 encourages both vaccines

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Me-Me Cowans-Taylor said her COVID symptoms made her feel extremely tired, but the flu left her in the hospital in a coma for months.

"I was dying," said Cowans-Taylor.

Hooked up to three different breathing machines for weeks, doctors didn't think the former radio and TV personality would survive her battle with H1N1 flu in 2009. She suffered double pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.

It would take her months to fully recover and learn to walk again.

"I am a walking, living, breathing miracle," Cowans-Taylor said.

Last August, she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The virus left her exhausted and in pain but thankfully out of the hospital.

"For me, I was scared because I didn't want to get as sick as I did before," Cowans-Taylor said. "I didn't want to die."

Today, she wants to encourage others to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.

"I was one of those people who said 'I don't need the flu shot. I'm really healthy. I've got a great immune system.' No," Cowans-Taylor said.

The CDC recommends all people at least six months of age to get an annual flu shot by the end of October, especially people at higher risk of flu complications, including adults 65 and older, people with asthma or diabetes, heart disease and children younger than age 5.

Cowans-Taylor says her battle with both viruses was a wakeup call.

"If you don't have to play Russian roulette, why are you doing it? You wouldn't get in a car and not put your seatbelt on," said Cowans-Taylor. "People are taking that chance but that's a chance I am never going to take."

Medical experts say it's safe to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot simultaneously.

Consult your doctor with any concerns.

Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.