Woman who nearly lost her husband to COVID-19 encouraging others to get vaccinated

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — As concern over the Delta variant continues to rise, one metro woman is encouraging others to get vaccinated because she knows just how close the virus can hit to home.

“It is not just the COVID for a week, it is what comes after that,” Paula Schirmer told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson.

Schirmer says she nearly lost her husband to COVID-19 last year, and is still dealing with long haul symptoms from the virus.

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That’s why she and local health experts are worried about what could happen to unvaccinated Georgians if the Delta variant causes cases to surge.

Only 38% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.

A new ABC News poll shows 74% of unvaccinated people are unwilling to get the shot. Many of those say concerns about new variants are exaggerated.

“There might be a false sense of security,” said Dr. Gulshan Harjee with the Clarkston Community Health Center.


She says one way to combat vaccine hesitancy is by getting more people tested to keep track of cases and variants.

“We need to keep testing in order to protect the rest of Georgia that is not vaccinated. Because if this variant gets out of control, we’re back to another surge another way,” she said.

The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report shows a 7% drop in cases and a 5% increase in hospitalizations in Georgia.

“We feel liberated after the vaccine, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Dr. Harjee said.

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Schirmer is now fully vaccinated and doesn’t worry about the variant affecting her as much as she worries about others.

“I’m really scared because people is not taking this seriously, they think is a cold or a flu. And that’s it,” she said.

The positivity rate is under 2%, but the rate of COVID-19 testing happening in the state is nearly half that of the national average.