Bethlehem nurse with breakthrough COVID case pleads for unvaccinated to ‘get the shot and save lives’

Written by on September 3, 2021

Bethlehem nurse with breakthrough COVID case pleads for unvaccinated to ‘get the shot and save lives’

By Megan Frank

September 6, 2021

A nurse of the Public Health Service prepares a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Don Orione rest home in Rome, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. Elderly at Don Orione rest home received the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday in Rome, in a second round of vaccinations following those for health workers last week. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Breakthrough coronavirus cases occur when a fully vaccinated person contracts COVID-19. Though these cases are rare, health experts say some are to be expected.

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A Bethlehem nurse who has breakthrough COVID is joining the voices of other frontline workers who are asking people to take more precautions. 

Sheryl Petrillo, a nurse at a Lehigh Valley area hospital, was vaccinated in December and tested positive for COVID last week. She says her symptoms so far have been mild.

“Sneezing, runny nose, a low-grade fever,” Petrillo said.

Petrillo is now quarantining at home. Because of her job, she says she comes into contact with people who are not vaccinated. 

It’s frustrating, she said. 

“We’re trying so hard every day to do our very best to take care of everyone,” Petrillo said. “Sometimes we don’t feel that we get that back in return.”

Her frustrations are shared by Darren Mareiniss, an emergency medicine physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

The majority of COVID cases he now treats are among unvaccinated people, he said.

“We are admitting and seeing people who are unvaccinated, who had every potential to get vaccinated, but they’re not doing that,” Mareiniss said. 

For people who are vaccinated, Mareiniss said to remember that breakthrough cases are extremely rare. 

If symptoms are present, he said, they’re usually mild because the vaccine has taught the body how to fight off the virus. 

“No vaccine is 100%. There’s no question that the vaccine is effective in preventing death and hospitalization,” Mareiniss said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even vaccinated people can spread the highly transmissible delta variant. 

Accordingly, people should continue to take precautions like getting vaccinated and wearing masks, Mareiniss said. 

“We’re going to need to do some significant mitigation measures or we’re going to see a very significant surge in the hospitals,” Mareiniss said. 

While waiting in quarantine, nurse Petrillo is hoping that more people get vaccinated and wear masks. 

“I really love my job and I need to get back there to do what I need to do to help everybody,” Petrillo said. 

She hopes to get back to work in a week if she tests negative. 

Some people may be eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot this fall. Visit the CDC website to learn more. 

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