Ginger Eatman is in the 5 percent of those who got both Pfizer shots and got sick. She warns being vaccinated “doesn’t mean you’re free.”
DALLAS, GA — Ginger Eatman admits that she wasn’t initially sold on receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Since the start of the pandemic, she has been careful about following health guidelines and faithfully wore a mask in public places. But by her own admission, she wasn’t excessively concerned about being overly strict.
Over time, though, the 73-year-old Dallas resident and IBM retiree warmed up to the idea of getting the Pfizer shots, the second of which she received Feb. 17 in Paulding County. But now, Eatman is one of only a few people in Georgia who have contracted the coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated.
Eatman, who is a member of the Georgia Festival Chorus, still isn’t certain how she got COVID-19. Although she always knew there was a 5 percent chance that she could contract the virus after receiving her shots, she is surprised that she is among the small percentage of those who get sick despite being vaccinated.Subscribe
“It wasn’t all that bad,” Eatman told Patch in a telephone interview Thursday. “The fatigue? Yes. Congestion? Yes. Burning skin when I didn’t have a fever? Yes. …but it wasn’t all that bad.”
Eatman said she got sick about a month after receiving her second shot. She had gone to an outdoor picnic and, within a short time, developed a scratchy throat. She blamed the pollen in the air and didn’t worry.
When her sore throat persisted a few days later after she developed a running nose and didn’t feel well, Eatman called her doctor’s office and asked if she should get a COVID-19 test. They told her not to worry. Two days later, Eatman lost her ability to smell anything, which convinced Eatman she needed to get tested for COVID-19.
She got tested even though the chorus was going to do a recording session the following Tuesday. Despite desperately wanting to go, a positive test stopped Eatman in her tracks.
“I could not believe I got it,” she said of the test results. “I called the (chorus) director and said, ‘I’ve got COVID.'”
Eatman is diabetic but said the condition is under control. Other than normal aches and pains, she said she has felt perfectly fine over the past year. She limited her trips out to church, the grocery store and other errands, and practiced regularly with the chorus. If her neighbors needed help, she provided them assistance, took them where they needed to go and stayed healthy. She carried her own disinfectant wipes and wore her mask but maintained the active lifestyle she has enjoyed.
Despite the excitement surrounding the release of the vaccines in December, Eatman didn’t plan to be vaccinated. On the advice of a friend in Virginia, she took one dose of Ivermectin, a medication that is designed to treat several infestations.
But after Eatman heard about rising cases, including two severe cases at her church in which two congregants died from COVID-19 complications, she decided to go through with getting vaccinated. She received her first dose in January and then the second in mid-February. Although officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced that fully vaccinated people can be around one another in indoor settings, Eatman remained cautious.
“I kept on wearing my mask and taking my Lysol wipes with me — I didn’t change that part — because I knew (COVID-19) is still out there,” she said. “I was only 95 percent protected, and so I just kept on going.”
A month later, Eatman tested positive and became what is believed to be one of less than five people in Georgia to contract COVID-19 despite getting both shots of the vaccine. Despite the fact that the virus didn’t hit her as hard as it does others who survive and recover, she remains aware that the coronavirus is still part of American daily life.
Vaccinated or not.
Georgia ranks 48th among states in terms of the vaccine doses that have been administered. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the state has administered more than 4.4 million of the 6.7 million doses (65.8 percent) of the vaccines it has received. Only Alaska and Alabama rank lower.
Eatman started feeling better last week but she said and skipped Easter church services as a precaution. Eatman said she would still encourage people to get vaccinated but warns that just because people have gotten their shots doesn’t give them a license to ignore the warnings that health officials say are important to follow.
Her message to others is simple.
“Just because you have had your shots does not mean you’re free,” Eatman said. “You still have to watch it. There’s a slim chance you’re going to be in their ‘breakthrough’ category that I’m in now, and (people need) to keep on following the CDC guidelines just like they say. You need to keep on keeping on.”