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Stronger Than Ever: A COVID-19 Survivor Story

Published on Jan. 17, 2022

brianna running in the winter

Sitting cross-legged at her desk one Tuesday evening, sipping tea and working through her grad school homework, Brianna Worthington noticed her phone buzz. COVID-19 TEST RESULTS READY flashed across the screen. Her heart sank as she read the results. Positive

In addition to pursuing her Master’s Degree in Business Administration, 25-year-old Brianna works full-time and enjoys an active lifestyle filled with running, hiking, sailing, and spending time outdoors. Though fully vaccinated, Brianna had decided to get tested after spending the weekend with close friends and discovering one of those friends had tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after. 

Battling Weakness from COVID-19

kayaking on the river with lifejacket“It wasn’t long after receiving the positive test result that I started to feel the effects of the virus,” Brianna said. “Walking to my mailbox was difficult. Soon, I had to stop to catch my breath after walking across a room.” 

The next several weeks brought weakness and exhaustion as the virus took hold.   

“I went from being able to run miles to struggling to walk for more than a few minutes,” Brianna recalled. “On some days, it was challenging just to sit up at my desk. I remember thinking how much worse it could have been had I not been vaccinated.”

Over the next few months, Brianna slowly regained her strength by going for walks. Her first goal? To walk to the mailbox and back without taking a break. 

Beating a Breakthrough COVID-19 Infection

Brianna is part of a small portion fully vaccinated individuals who experienced what’s called a breakthrough infection. Breakthrough infections are common in all vaccines, which is why vaccine boosters are recommended -- because vaccine effectiveness can wane over time.

dr. nefcy of munson healthcareWhile it is possible to still get sick after being vaccinated against COVID-19, fully vaccinated people are far less likely to get seriously ill or become hospitalized than those who are not. In fact, people who have not yet been vaccinated are almost 6 times more likely to contract the virus and 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from contracting a potentially life-threatening case of COVID-19 is through vaccination,” explains Christine Nefcy, MD, FAAP – Chief Medical Officer, Munson Healthcare. “Vaccines work to form an immune response prior to a real infection, so you have a better defense against it.”

Young adults like Brianna (between 18-29 years old) account for the largest number of COVID-19 cases compared to any other age group – yet they’re among the least likely to get vaccinated.

Even for those who are young and otherwise healthy, getting vaccinated is important to prevent serious illness. Teens and twenty-somethings that have already been infected with COVID-19 should still get the vaccine to keep their immune systems fortified against the virus. 

“The vaccines are the strongest tool available to combat COVID-19,” Dr. Nefcy said. 

Other mitigation efforts, such as masking, social distancing, and frequent handwashing are other important mitigation efforts against COVID-19. 

Boosted Strength from Vaccination

Since this experience, Brianna has received her booster shot and is stronger than ever before. In addition to hiking and running again, she’s even learning how to rock climb. 

climbing indoors with a mask on“I am grateful that I chose to be vaccinated,” Brianna said. “I truly believe the COVID-19 vaccine is what kept me out of the hospital.”

Through her experience as a patient, Brianna learned that COVID-19 can affect anyone – whether young or old. Brianna shares her story to encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. 

“You buy insurance for your car and a protection plan for your phone – why wouldn’t you protect your body the same way? That’s why I got vaccinated,” Brianna explains. “I wanted to protect myself and everyone I love around me from getting seriously sick – and I did. I feel lucky to have made such a full recovery, but it’s not because of luck:  it’s largely due to the vaccine.” 

Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine? 

ask a nurse iconDo you or a loved one have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?  Call our Munson Healthcare Ask-a-Nurse hotline  at 231-935-0951 and speak to a registered nurse any time (no insurance required). 

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Ready to Roll up Your Sleeve? 

Are you ready to get vaccinated to protect yourself and the ones you love against a serious case of COVID-19? Click here to find out where you can get the vaccine.

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