BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A local woman who refused to get the coronavirus vaccine pleads with the unvaccinated in Kern County days before dying from COVID-19.

Nena Martin, 53, had no underlying conditions and was not at risk for severe disease caused by COVID-19. Martin’s family says her death certificate reiterates she did not have pre-existing conditions.

“She was healthy, she was active , she was always out doing things, she was not overweight, she did not have those issues, which is part of the reason why she thought she didn’t need to be vaccinated,” said Sam Russell, Martin’s sister.

Martin tested positive for COVID-19 on Jul. 24.

She was admitted into the hospital one week later.

“Her body continued to go down that whole time and there was nothing wrong with her to cause that,” Russell said. “It was the COVID that was attacking her.”

Hooked up in the hospital and attached to different machines, Martin realized she needed the vaccine. It was too late.

“I should have gotten the vaccine,” Martin said in a recorded video just a few days before she died.

Martin’s intense battle with COVID was illustrated in heartbreaking texts to her loved ones.

“I’m suffocating,” Martin texted her dad a few days before she died.

“Just keep breathing…you’re a fighter and you’re strong,” Martin’s father replied. “Just keep up the good fight. Love you, my sweet Nena.”

Martin lost her battle to COVID-19 early Aug. 14. She died alone in the hospital.

Now her family is urging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and others.

“Pride comes before your downfall,” Russell said. “You may have been telling everyone to not get vaccinated…don’t let that cause your death.”

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