The coronavirus vaccine has been proven to be highly effective in preventing symptoms and severe illness in most patients, but as COVID cases continue to rise around the United States, some residents are warning that even the vaccinated should keep their guard up.
Sue Blackwell has a story to illustrate that very point. She recently joined seven other family members on a trip to Las Vegas earlier this summer, and after the group got back, two of them, both of whom were vaccinated against COVID, had become ill with the virus.
“We thought ‘we’re vaccinated. It will be okay,” she said. “When we got home from vacation, two of them came up positive.”
Her 81-year-old father has been hospitalized in Elmhurst for a week due to the virus.
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“He had a hard time breathing and walking,” she said.
Blackwell’s 58-year-old sister also contracted the virus. She says her symptoms were mild, and thought they were merely the result of bad allergies.
“I am surprised, because I got vaccinated in March and had both Pfizer shots,” she said.
Robert Coy, another Chicago resident, has a similar story. He and three other travel companions were diagnosed with COVID after returning from a trip to Massachusetts, despite all being vaccinated against the virus.
“It’s like a really nasty cold. Bit of a cough, and you just feel tired,” he said. “I’ve seen people go through way worse, and I’m thankful it’s as mild as it has been.”
According to experts, all three COVID vaccines that have been given emergency use authorization in the United States are effective in preventing the disease, and also have a high degree of efficacy in preventing serious illness. Both Coy and Blackwell believe that the COVID vaccine made their symptoms less severe, and public health officials are still encouraging residents to get the vaccine for that very reason.
“The risk for people who are fully vaccinated is very, very, very low,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said. “The risk for people who are unvaccinated is in a more moderate range.”
Vaccination numbers are beginning to drop however, leading some officials to worry about a potential increase in cases. On Thursday, Illinois reported 861 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID, the most that have been reported in a single day since May 28.
In all, more than 1.3 million cases of the virus have been reported, with more than 23,000 deaths.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 6.3 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID. Of those residents, 563 have been hospitalized due to COVID, and 151 have died as a result of the virus, making up 2.2% of all COVID deaths in the state during that time.