Vaccinated Americans reflect on breakthrough infections, ‘infuriating’ anti-vaccine views

Even as Americans are trying to prepare for omicron, many parts of the country are still reeling from the delta variant. More Americans died of COVID this year than in 2020, despite the wide availability of free vaccines. The pandemic's lingering, deadly grip has left many frustrated. We hear from viewers about how the continued spread of the virus has impacted them.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Back here in the U.S., even as people are trying to prepare for Omicron, many parts of the country are still reeling from the Delta variant. More Americans died of COVID this year than in 2020, despite the wide availability of free vaccines.

    And, as viewers have told us, the continuing resistance to vaccinations has led to distress among those who are vaccinated.

  • Jenn Moore, Pennsylvania:

    My name is Jenn Moore, and I live in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia.

  • Jeff Yang, Los Angeles:

    My name is Jeff Yang. I'm an author, journalist and strategist living in Ladera Heights, Los Angeles.

  • Loretta Cochran, Arkansas:

    I'm Loretta Cochran. I'm an associate professor of management at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas.

  • Leslie Douglas, Washington, D.C.:

    My name is Leslie Douglas. I'm a teacher, and I work in Washington, D.C.

  • Jenn Moore:

    I lost my grandmother to COVID on October 1. She caught COVID. She was shipped to a nursing home on the other side of the state, where we couldn't talk to her. And when she was returned to us a month later, she had dementia and passed away within a few weeks.

    She was in an assisted living, and she caught it there. I believe they really cared about her, but there was no way to guarantee the people there were vaccinated.

  • Jeff Yang:

    My sister is a physician. She's an urgent care front-line physician, so she sees 30 or more patients a day.

    And she let us know a couple of months ago that she had gotten breakthrough COVID. And my mom and dad actually found out that they also had gotten a breakthrough COVID. While my mom was quarantining at home, my dad had a fall. And even though that was too problematic — I mean, just in case, my mom had him taken by ambulance to the hospital.

    Because my dad was COVID-positive and tested as such when he went in, they put him into quarantine, into isolation. As a result, it just felt like he was receding from us farther and farther away.

    I thank the fact that he was vaccinated for the fact that he's alive. But I am enraged at the fact that this pandemic has continued so long.

  • Leslie Douglas:

    I contract illnesses very easily, though I am not considered immunocompromised. Personally, the most dangerous illnesses for me are respiratory illnesses. This makes COVID extraordinarily dangerous for me.

  • Loretta Cochran:

    My father, who is 89, has been in assisted living for a couple of years now. And we had been very careful. My sister and my brother and all of our children had all been vaccinated before seeing my dad.

    In fact, no one could go see my dad if they hadn't been vaccinated. I had gone by to pick him up and take him for a checkup, and we end up going straight to the E.R., and he was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia.

    So, the only way he could have contracted COVID is someone coming into that assisted living facility either unvaccinated or a vaccinated asymptomatic and not wearing a mask.

    I think that only because he had the vaccines is he still alive.

  • Jenn Moore:

    My grandma, she lived a good, long life. And we were just sad that her last few weeks were away from us like they were. You know, it just — pandemic is almost like a natural disaster that you know is here and it's happening. But I'm just frustrated with the people who won't help mitigate it.

  • Jeff Yang:

    Seeing him in the state that he was in just — it shattered me. Every single day we talked to him, I was afraid that it was the last one.

    I mean, again, I thank God that, so far, we have had a good outcome. And, again, I don't think it would have been the case if my parents had not been vaccinated. But it's just so infuriating.

  • Leslie Douglas:

    I have developed a very strong case of pandemic anxiety.

    It makes it difficult for me to do activities that seem simple, such as going to the grocery store, or even just interacting with my neighbors. It makes me feel anxious about going to doctor's appointments, because I'm not sure that people that are also in the waiting rooms or waiting outside are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

    I don't know how to create a sense of normalcy or a sense of hope for the future, if I am too afraid to go out of my home.

  • Loretta Cochran:

    I get angry at the attitude that has taken over. It's all about me, and it's not freedoms, and the government shouldn't impose.

    Well, I got news for you. We have got speed limits out here for a reason. We don't let you drive drunk for a reason, OK? You don't get to endanger other people's health. I'm not — I'm not here to intrude on your rights, but you don't get to stomp all over my dad. You don't get to kill my dad. That's not what you get to do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we are so grateful to each one of you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Thank you.

Listen to this Segment