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Woman who had breakthrough COVID-19 case believes vaccine saved her life

Study: Unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19

Study: Unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
Study: Unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled since last Labor Day.

While breakthrough COVID-19 infections can happen, a new study revealed unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to end up hospitalized from COVID-19 than vaccinated people

A breakthrough case is when a vaccinated person gets COVID-19.

News4Jax spoke with a woman who had a breakthrough case, and she believes the COVID-19 vaccine is the only reason she’s not another statistic.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Billie Garrett knew taking the virus seriously was a matter of life or death.

“I have fibromyalgia, and my immune system is haywire. Anything I catch takes forever to heal because of the fibro,” Garrett said.

That’s why she didn’t have a second thought about getting the COVID-19 vaccine in January. But, in July, she got COVID-19.

“I can’t tell you how many times I woke up gasping for air,” she recalled.

While Garrett’s symptoms were severe, she was never hospitalized. She believes that’s because she was vaccinated.

“I am convinced that I would have died if I had not gotten it because I was so severely ill with the vaccine. I shudder to think where I would be if I didn’t get it,” Garrett said. “I absolutely do not think I would be alive today without it.”

Even though Garrett got sick, Duval County Medical Society Foundation President Dr. Sunil Joshi said the vaccine did its job.

“We have never said the vaccine will 100% prevent you from having the virus. The whole reason we have vaccines in the first place is to keep people from getting severely that they end up in the hospital or even passing away from the virus,” Joshi said.

Recent studies have shown the efficacy of the vaccines does lower over time — exactly how much is still unknown since that data is being collected in real-time. But Dr. Chirag Patel with UF Health Jacksonville said protection remains high.

“It is safe to say that a majority of people will have very good protection for at least six months,” Patel said. “With any vaccine, you’re going to have breakthrough cases. No vaccine in the history of mankind is 100% effective. The three vaccines that we have are the most effective in the history of mankind, but there is still a small percentage of individuals who are going to get sick — and an even smaller amount who are going to require hospitalization.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recorded breakthrough cases until the end of April. At that time, there had been more than 10,000.

The CDC said it will no longer track cases and instead focus on the number of breakthrough cases that have led to hospitalization or death.

As of last month, according to the CDC, more than 173 million Americans have been vaccinated, and there were 12,908 breakthrough cases in which a person was hospitalized or died. That’s less than 1%.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.