It had all the makings of a picture-perfect vacation. For Joe Woolley and his husband, Jim Schmidt, a recent trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts seemed like the perfect chance to travel after being locked up for nearly a year and a half because of COVID-19.
But for Woolley, that recent trip to Provincetown is serving as a painful reminder that the pandemic is far from over.
In the last few weeks, health officials in this coastal community filled with tourists have reported more than 256 new COVID-19 cases. Most of those cases are turning out to be from the highly contagious delta variant, and many of the positive tests are in individuals who’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Joe Woolley is now one of those breakthrough cases.
“For us, this is really highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated,” Woolley said.
Because of a sudden spike in cases, Provincetown and other cities across the country are now starting to reimplement mask mandates.
Dr. Amesh Adalja is an infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins University. While breakthrough infections are incredibly rare, Dr. Adalja says they do happen. But those COVID-19 infections among vaccinated individuals don’t mean the vaccine isn’t working, and in fact, quite the opposite.
“When those breakthrough infections occur, they are usually clinically insignificant meaning they have no symptoms or little symptoms,” Dr. Adalja said.
Dr. Adalja says he hopes that the current spike in cases nationwide will push those who are holding out on getting the vaccine to finally get inoculated against the virus.
“COVID-19 is now a vaccine-preventable illness, so when you see hospitalizations or see deaths, the vast majority are preventable,” Dr. Adalja said.
As for Joe Woolley and his husband, their symptoms have been mild, largely because of the vaccine. They hope by sharing their story it might get one more person vaccinated.