Carmen Lerma, COVID survivor and double lung transplant recipient, receives first dose of vaccine

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Carmen Lerma is well known in Milwaukee for receiving a double lung transplant in October. Now, Lerma has received her first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Lerma tells CBS 58 it was a moment not only important for her, but for her community.

“I was told at first that I wasn’t going to be able to have it because of the transplant, but now it’s being able to have the opportunity to live all over again and feel safe,” says Lerma.

Lerma knows second chances all too well. After a long and life-threatening battle with COVID-19, Carmen received a double lung transplant.

“I have gone through so much in the last six months and I know there is a lot of hesitation in the Hispanic community, as well as the African American community, about the importance of taking the vaccine,” says Lerma.

That’s why Carmen has teamed up with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Muslim Community and Health Center of Wisconsin on a new campaign to help raise awareness.

“We are trying to tell people that it is safe to take it, it is good to take it,” says Arman Tahir, director of operations at MCHC. “It is far better to be on this side of the clinic where you are able to do all those things, versus suffer from the COVID infection, which is not an easy thing to take care.”

“My doctors, my specialist, would not put me in a situation where it would jeopardize the transplant,” says Lerma. “If they are giving me the okay, I feel comfortable. So, I urge everybody in the community to just do it. We’re going to end this pandemic if we do everything the right way.”

The center hopes this encourages people to register for their vaccine clinics which will be taking place this Friday and Saturday for those who are eligible. Their goal is to vaccinate 1,000 people.

Carmen’s second dose is scheduled for next month.

You can contact MCHC at (414)939-4411. They are located at 803 W Layton Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53221.

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