Fully vaccinated North Carolina couple who got COVID-19 have message for others


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A fully vaccinated North Carolina couple who both contracted COVID-19 are urging others to take precautions, and to get the vaccine if they haven’t yet.

Thousands of fully vaccinated people in the Raleigh-Durham-Cary area have tested positive for COVID-19 as the delta variant continues to spread across the country. Two of those people, Brent Eischen and his wife Joy McGrael, of Cary, both received the Moderna vaccine months ago.

What started as a runny nose developed into more for Eischen. He tested positive for COVID-19 a few days after coming home from Florida.

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“When I got that fever, that morning, I felt pretty rough, I felt a little tightness in my chest, and a runny nose, and I just thought something might be off,” Eischen said.

When her husband tested positive, McGrael took at-home COVID tests while she was away on business. After three negative tests, she flew home. Then on Saturday, she tested positive too.

“I know there was a chance of obviously getting COVID after a vaccine, but I didn’t expect it because I had negative COVID tests after his positive,” McGrael said.

McGrael compares her case to a medium cold, but she did lose her sense of taste and smell. Eischen said his is more like the flu.

“The severity of this has been very very mild compared to what a lot of people experience, so we’re very thankful for that,” McGrael said.

Eischen and McGrael are just two examples of breakthrough cases.

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According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, there have been 4,659 potential breakthrough cases as of July 11, including 321 hospitalizations and 61 deaths. NCDHHS said the numbers are preliminary.

Still, the department says about 95% of cases since May 6 are people who were not fully vaccinated.

Eischen said he hopes the couple’s experience helps vaccinated people realize there is still a chance of catching COVID-19. That’s why the couple is urging people who have symptoms to get a COVID-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status.

“If you have symptoms, take the precautions and don’t just ignore them as a summer cold,” McGrael said.

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The couple said they took electrolytes and over-the-counter medicine.

Eischen’s message is consistent with that of public health officials who say that vaccinated people who get COVID-19 are less likely to be severely sick or hospitalized.

“I would say definitely 100% everyone should get the vaccine because it will definitely help you out if you were to contract COVID,” Eischen said.


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