I have “breakthrough COVID.” Here’s what it’s like

I have “breakthrough COVID.” Here’s what it’s like

Axios' Symphony Webber quarantined on her 24th birthday.

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This past Thursday was one of the scariest days of my life.

It didn’t start that way. I’d taken the day off to kick off my birthday weekend, and had a pretty busy morning planned. I was invited to speak on a podcast (virtually, thank goodness) and tied up a few other loose ends and errands. When I finally unplugged later that day, though, I started to decline.

I curled up on my couch to binge-watch some Netflix — “Fear Street.” With each passing hour, my symptoms worsened. Light sensitivity turned into a throbbing headache, stiff joints turned into body aches, and a sore throat turned into a gnarly cough.

Luckily, my dad was on my side of town after visiting a relative and stopped by to check on me. I told him I wasn’t feeling well, and feared that I might have COVID-19.

But I was fully vaccinated, so he reassured me it was most likely a cold. One helluva cold, I remember thinking.


Around 6:45pm, my dad took my temperature: 101. I’m a cold-natured person, so I keep my apartment at a sensible 79 degrees (yes, even in the summertime). Still that afternoon I had on sweatpants, a mask and a blanket wrapped around me.

Some time went by, I unfurled from my blanket, and my dad got another read: 103. It was time to head to urgent care.

I probably looked like I was hungover when I got there — sunglasses on, a baggy T-shirt, slip-on shoes because laces were out of the question. Believe it or not, this was my first COVID-19 test. During the worst of the pandemic, I never went anywhere without my mask. I religiously washed my hands and scooted away from anyone who coughed.

But I let my guard down once I got vaccinated, as many of us have.

[Go deeper: Vaccinated Charlotteans are testing positive for COVID-19]

Deep down, I knew what the test would say before I got the results. I became emotional thinking about the heartbreak I would feel if either my dad or my mom caught what I had. Everything required so much of my energy, even talking, so I resorted to head nods and short moans. The rest of the night was a blur.

Even in my delirious state, I remember thinking, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

A day later, my positive Covid result came in.

I spent my 24th birthday in quarantine, where I’ll remain for at least 10 days.

Even though it’s not an ideal situation, this ordeal reminded me of what’s important in life: having your health and being with people who love and care about you.

It’s also made me wonder what my situation would’ve been like had I not been vaccinated.

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