Vaccinated Cary man details experience with 'breakthrough' COVID-19 case

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Despite getting his second Moderna shot in April, Cary resident Brent Eischen was diagnosed with COVID-19 this week.

"I was actually shocked to hear that I had a breakthrough," Eischen said.

He said he started feeling sick after a trip to Orlando.

"I ended up getting a high fever, a fever of over 100... a light bulb went off and my nose was running a lot more and I was sneezing, and I felt the congestion, and I also felt a little tightness in the chest," Eischen said. "I really didn't think it was COVID but I decided, I might as well go ahead and get tested."

Eischen is not alone.

Since May 6, about 6 percent of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina have been among those who were fully vaccinated, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

NCDHHS said it has identified 4,659 potential breakthrough cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 321 hospitalizations and 61 deaths. These are preliminary numbers.

Despite his diagnosis, Eischen is still happy he got the vaccine.

"I'm going to believe that I would be-I could be much worse without it, but I definitely believe that we all need to be vaccinated," Eischen said. "Who knows, if everybody were vaccinated, maybe it wouldn't be spreading rampant, maybe I wouldn't have gotten a breakthrough case."

Eischen is isolating. He said he is trying to get tested to see whether he contracted the Delta variant.

"I think that's definitely something I think the public should be more aware of, is that there is this chance of breakthrough," he said. "You know, I'm hoping we don't shut everything down, but I'm hoping that this kind of encourages the people that if they aren't vaccinated, to get vaccinated, and also to understand that you're always taking a risk."

Eischen, who is 53 and said he lives a healthy lifestyle, is looking forward to getting over COVID-19.

"I'm headed to Kilimanjaro in September, and I'm going to go," Eischen said. "I feel safe enough. I'm going to take that risk, so I think everybody has to determine what their risk is going to be."

The CDC is only tracking breakthrough cases that result in hospitalizations and deaths and said there will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized or even die from COVID-19.

The NCDHHS said vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 and protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

"I thought I was going to be able to just be free," Eischen said. "I thought I could just go out without a mask and do whatever I wanted to do, and I really didn't have to worry about it. Now, again, I knew there was a chance. And I also know that I'm fairly healthy, and I definitely am happy that I got vaccinated. And I'm hoping that that's why my symptoms are not worse than they are."
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