By McKenzie Ward
On Jan. 2, 2021, I got a text saying that I had been exposed to COVID-19.
I waited until Jan. 5 and got tested. And after having a swab stuck up my nose, I got an email later that night saying that I had tested negative.
To say I was elated would be an understatement – I felt like I had just won the lottery.
Even though I tested negative, I decided to continue to quarantine for at least another two days just to be safe. I went to bed feeling fine.
But by the next morning, I had a fever of almost 104 degrees and my head felt as if someone was beating it with a hammer. The pain was unimaginable, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
After spending the day in bed and being unable to move, I got retested and to no one’s surprise my results came back positive.
During my 10-day isolation, I spent it lying in bed, exhausted, and constantly feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest because of how painfully difficult it was to breathe.
While my symptoms did get better over time, for the three months following I had to use a steroid inhaler because the virus damaged my lungs.
So, when I was eligible for the vaccine in April, I drove all the way to Fenway Park to get my first dose of Pfizer.
And for a while I felt invincible and didn’t get reinfected.
But then during finals week last semester, I was craving a coffee and it just so happened that FSU was giving out coupons for a free Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee if you got tested.
So, I threw on my coat and made my way to the gym to get tested with the plan to get my free coffee, finish my last final, and start enjoying my winter break.
But within less than 24 hours, I got a phone call, and the caller ID was “FRAMINGHAM STATE.”
My stomach dropped.
Despite being vaccinated, I had tested positive for COVID-19 again.
A cough and a craving for Dunkin’s coffee.
I drove home, masked up, and stayed in my room for yet another 10 days, but this time with no fever, no headache, and no intense chest pains for days on end. Just a slight cough and extreme fatigue that could be remedied with a nap.
While the vaccine may not have protected me from becoming reinfected with COVID-19, I credit it for lessening my symptoms and if I could go back to last April, I would still choose to get vaccinated. I am so incredibly thankful that a month later, I don’t continue to experience any lasting symptoms of the virus like I had last year at this time.
No vaccine is perfect. But ones like the COVID-19 vaccine do an amazing job at lessening the symptoms of those who test positive and can help prevent death caused by the virus.
According to the American Medical Association, around 25% of breakthrough COVID-19 cases are completely asymptomatic and about 50% to 60% of patients may experience symptoms, but they are mild and less likely need hospitalization.
According to the CDC, in a study done using data from Los Angeles County, an unvaccinated person infected with COVID-19 is 23 times more likely to be hospitalized than a person who is vaccinated and boosted.
While I may have felt discouraged and isolated when I tested positive again in December despite being vaccinated, I have continued to advocate for getting vaccinated. It protected me from experiencing the debilitating symptoms that I had in January 2021, and I will forever be thankful for that. Please do your part in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and get vaccinated and boosted.