Frank LaMee contracted COVID-19 twice in the last 10 months, the second time after he was vaccinated.
The Oak Harbor resident said the immunosuppressive drugs he takes for lupus are likely the cause of the unusual break-through case. Yet he credits the vaccine with ensuring that his symptoms have been mild.
“I can’t imagine what shape I would be in if I wasn’t vaccinated,” he said from his home, where he has been quarantining in a bedroom.
He explained that everyone at his work contracted the virus after one employee returned from a sports tournament in Nevada where people were unmasked. He was the only one vaccinated in the office. He’s worried about two of his coworkers who are seriously ill even though they have no underlying conditions.
LaMee was one of 211 new cases that have been counted in Island County in the last two weeks as rates continue to spike with the rise of the delta variant.
Just six weeks ago, the county had 20 new cases in a two-week period.
It’s certainly been a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” in the county as well as the nation as a whole. County statistics show just how effective the vaccine has been.
One out of 142 eligible Island County residents who were unvaccinated got COVID during a two-week period ending Aug. 12, the county reported.
In comparison, only 1 in 5,000 residents who have received at least one shot of a vaccine came down with the virus during the same period.
Don Mason, the county’s COVID response manager, highlighted “a significant, rapid increase in cases in Island County” during a presentation at the commissioners’ meeting last Tuesday.
At that time, 176 new cases of the virus were reported in the county over a two-week period.
As he predicted, it’s gotten worse since then.
The county counted 211 new cases in the two weeks ending Aug. 12.
Mason said 95% of the new cases are people who are unvaccinated. Most of the infections are from the delta variant.
“Those who have chosen to be unvaccinated, they are making a choice,” he said. “That choice comes with a very, very high risk.”
A couple of weeks ago, WhidbeyHealth warned about a lack of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients.
The seven-day hospitalization rate reported by the county is a couple of weeks old and shows that it varied throughout July and into August. The highest rate was 8.25 per 100,000 people in the week ending July 31.
Mason pointed out that those who have chosen to be unvaccinated are more likely to be severely ill and much more likely to require hospitalization. Those who are vaccinated are much more likely to have mild symptoms.
“The best strategy to protect yourself and your family from this virus is to get vaccinated,” Mason said.
As for LaMee, he’s lost his sense of smell, feels “totally wiped out” and has a dry cough, but otherwise is doing OK.
He said he can’t understand why some people have chosen not to get vaccinated. It’s an issue that has nothing to do with politics, he said, and people need to stop believing social media misinformation and do what’s right.
“For myself, the most important thing isn’t about me, it’s about protecting others around me,” he said.