The first paragraph of a woman’s obituary in Illinois earlier this month was an eye-opener. “Springfield, IL—Candace Cay (Kruger) Ayers, 66, of Springfield, passed away on September 3, 2021, at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, IL. She was preceded in death by more than 4,531,799 others (globally) who were infected with COVID-19. She was vaccinated but was infected by others who chose not to be. The cost was her life.”
The tragic pain and despair that her family has wrestled with since the pretty grandmother died on a COVID hospital bed two weeks ago is what triggered the bold emotion. The Ayers family is having a tough time processing Candace's death and wanted to try to inspire others to get a vaccine and wear a mask, her son Marc Ayers said.
Sharing daily worldwide COVID-19 death numbers in her obituary was aimed to make people take pause, he said.
Personally, it is a bit of a reach for me to blame sickness or death on others during a worldwide pandemic, but Ayers feels strongly after COVID took his mom. "This was to illustrate that this isn't just an issue contained to the U.S., but it has a global impact," Ayers said. "My mom was a fighter. She kept fighting and fighting and fighting. We wanted to send a point."
This they have accomplished with the story going viral since it was learned Candace was a rare ‘breakthrough’ victim. According to a CNN account, "I took my parents to get that second jab (in March), and we were all so excited," said their son. "We are a family that believes in science. We believe in masks, and we believe in vaccines. We were ready to get back to normal."
But Candace Ayers died nearly six months later following a July trip with her husband to Mississippi. Her death certificate says she died of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “breakthrough case” occurs when someone tests positive for COVID-19 at least 14 days after they have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Such infections can cause disease with symptoms, and some people can have no symptoms at all. Research has shown that if people become infected after vaccination, typically they get a milder case.
Again from CNN: Between early April and mid-July - as the Delta variant was gaining dominance - fully vaccinated people represented eight percent of all COVID-19 cases, eight percent of hospitalizations and nine percent of deaths, according to a CDC study published just this month.
And Candace Ayers was especially vulnerable because she was older and had an underlying health condition: “My mother had severe rheumatoid arthritis. We were always the most concerned about her getting it because she was immuno-compromised," Ayers said. "We were wrestling with whether they should have traveled but things were looking so good, and with them being fully vaccinated, we just didn't have any thoughts of them going to visit friends in Mississippi.
“The Delta variant was just hitting the radar. Breakthrough cases were rare at that point. Our worst nightmare came true." (About 70 percent of breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization were among adults 65 and older and about 87 percent of breakthrough cases resulting in death were among adults 65 and older, according to the CDC data.
The family has gotten positive and negative feedback to the obituary, he said. “It's been really wonderful to hear from friends and strangers regarding the obituary. Because of our story," Ayers said, "people have told us they are getting vaccinated.
"Of course, there are negative comments as well, but the majority has been positive."
Marc said in several interviews, “The big thing is that this didn’t have to happen. This all could have been avoided. This could have been prevented by a few acts of kindness. They were in a state that had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask for others ... had this been done, she would be here today."
If only people would get the vaccine, others might live.