This is part of a series that shares real stories of people who have decided to get a COVID-19 vaccine – how did they decide, what was it like and how are they feeling now?
Earlier this year, BlueCross employee Kerri Brewer shared her experience with the COVID-19 vaccine. Kerri is a volunteer with the Jasper Fire Department, and she knew the vaccine was an important step in protecting herself and her family from the virus. She received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine in late December 2020 and was fully vaccinated by January 2021.
Recently, Kerri let us know that she was a rare breakthrough case – an individual who contracts COVID-19 after being vaccinated.
Here’s what she had to say about her post-vaccination experience with COVID-19.
Were you aware of breakthrough cases?
Yes, I was aware of them. I knew they could happen, but when I was diagnosed with COVID, I didn’t know anyone who had a breakthrough case.
Did you feel you were in danger of getting one?
Initially, I didn’t think I’d have a breakthrough case, and I thought if I did, it would be so mild I wouldn’t even know. But my husband’s a schoolteacher, and he had only been back in school for about two weeks, and cases were already rising.
We talked about things, and we realized we’d become lax about wearing our masks in public. So, we decided to start doing that again. Unfortunately, it was a little late for me.
Do you know where/how you were exposed to the virus?
I’m 99% sure I know. My husband and I went out to a concert at a local indoor venue with some friends. They rode in the car with us, and we had dinner before. That was on a Saturday. On Tuesday, I started feeling congested. I have bad fall allergies anyway, so I figured that’s what it was, and I didn’t think much about it.
Then, one of our friends called to let us know they started feeling bad and had tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. Wednesday morning, I decided to get tested, and I was positive.
What effects/symptoms did you experience?
I did end up losing my sense of taste and smell, and I had a little bit of shortness of breath if I tried to exert myself. Fortunately, I had a pulse oxygen monitor, and my rate never dropped below 97.
I lost my sense of taste one type of taste at a time. So first, I couldn’t taste anything salty, then I couldn’t taste anything sweet, and then I could only taste sour. It’s not like losing your taste when you’re congested – it’s completely different.
And, I don’t quite know how to explain this, but I had these spells of what I call “COVID brain.” I wasn’t dizzy, but I had times when I felt like my brain was foggy. It would last for about 20 minutes then go away.
I did have one other symptom that I think is just a Delta variant thing. My nose burned like I’d inhaled pool water. It was more annoying than anything else.
What was your treatment?
I have allergies and asthma, so I tend to get a case of walking pneumonia about every year. It’s more like a cough that I can’t get rid of. When I found out I had COVID, I worried I would be more susceptible to pneumonia. So, the urgent care provider refilled my inhaler and gave me a prescription for steroids. I also started taking those emergency vitamin packets with zinc and vitamin D each day. Other than that, I took regular over-the-counter cold medicine to help alleviate the congestion.
How long were you sick?
I’d say I only had symptoms for about 7 to 10 days, depending on the symptom. So, my taste and smell started to come back pretty quickly compared to what I think other people have said. I know some people have gone months without taste and smell, but mine started to return by day 11 or 12.
How do you feel now? Any lingering effects?
I’d say I still have some shortness of breath. I recently did a lot of walking, and I thought, “Yeah, I’m not up to 100% yet.” That’s about it. Some things still taste a little off. I don’t think I have my sense of taste completely back, but it’s better than it was.
If Moderna boosters become available, do you plan to get one?
Oh, 100%. I feel a little better that I have viral antibodies for a while, but I still definitely want the booster as soon as I can get it.
What do you want people to know about COVID vaccines?
I really think the vaccines work and they do what they’re designed to do. I still had some initial shock when I found out I had COVID, but I told myself that if I ended up in the hospital having to be treated or even intubated, I had peace knowing that I did all I could to protect myself.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.