Arizona lawmaker stresses COVID-19 vaccine importance after post-inoculation infection

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An Arizona lawmaker says it could have been much worse for her had she not gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 before testing positive for the coronavirus this week.

Rep. Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson, said she tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, about 11 weeks after she received her second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine.

“Despite wide availability of vaccines, we must continue to take precautions to slow the spread,” she said. “It is up to all of us to work together to defeat this pandemic.”

Hernandez, 28, said she couldn’t smell or taste and had a fever and “horrible migraine.” She said Thursday afternoon her situation would be much worse had she not been vaccinated.

“I have been feeling very exhausted, and I don’t wish for anyone to get sick, but I also want to encourage you all, if you have not been vaccinated, to please get vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said. “My situation would be much worse right now had I not been vaccinated.”

Hernandez also is a public health professional. She lives with her brother, who also is vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19.

The lawmaker did count herself as present in legislative sessions this week, but attended session remotely, according to her office. Both chambers of the Arizona Legislature removed mask requirements, but most Democrats maintain their facial coverings.

Arizona has yet to report a vaccinated person dying of COVID-19, though it has reported 947 breakthrough cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month about 5,800 fully vaccinated people had been infected with COVID-19 and 74 died. More than 101 million Americans had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday. Of the breakthrough cases, nearly half were 60 and older. The CDC suspects some of the breakthrough cases are from COVID-19 variant strains, though drug manufacturers have found their vaccines are largely effective against them.

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