By Bobeth Yates

MIAMI GARDENS (CBS4) — As the first case of the omicron variant officially makes its way to South Florida, the community came together in Miami Gardens for an interfaith candlelight vigil on Sunday night to remember those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Many in the group were coronavirus survivors, who shared their stories in hopes of encouraging others to get vaccinated.

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“The COVID had attacked me” said Miami Gardens resident Minister Anthony Johnson. “I’ve been in the service. I’ve been to Okinawa Japan, I’ve been to Korea, and took shots and what have you, but I never experienced what COVID done to me,” added Johnson.

He wasn’t the only one who shared a similar COVID-19 experience.

“From the second to the third day, I just lost all my energy. I couldn’t move, I was just lying in bed, my body hurt, I couldn’t eat or drink anything, it was horrendous,” said Miami Beach resident Vivian Espinel, who added things got so bad she had to be hospitalized.

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“COVID 19 is debilitating. I ended up with double pneumonia, liquid in both my lungs, and the doctor told me that at the very moment, if I had not gone when I did, I would’ve had organ failure,” added Espinel.

One after the other, COVID survivors continued to share their stories. The group says the purpose is to encourage vaccination.

“Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, get vaccinated,” added pastor Horce Ward with the Episcopal Church of Holy Family

The event was sponsored by the live healthy Miami Gardens Initiative. Vaccines and booster shots were also available.

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