State school superintendent credits vaccine after surviving severe breakthrough COVID case

State School Superintendent Richard Woods was hospitalized for a breakthrough COVID-19 case in July. Woods was fully vaccinated. (Photo courtesy Georgia Department of Education)
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State School Superintendent Richard Woods was hospitalized for a breakthrough COVID-19 case in July. Woods was fully vaccinated. (Photo courtesy Georgia Department of Education)

Georgia state school Superintendent Richard Woods is crediting vaccination against COVID-19 for his survival after severe infection that led to his hospitalization.

“Though my symptoms were severe, and I did experience a breakthrough case, my doctors fully believe that the vaccine assisted in mitigating the effects of the virus and kept me alive during the ordeal,” Woods said in a written statement released Tuesday morning by the Georgia Department of Education, the agency he leads.

Woods tested positive for the disease in July after attending a meeting of the state Board of Education. He was not experiencing any symptoms at the time but subsequently felt ill, went to his doctor and was tested.

“I did experience severe symptoms and had to spend the beginning of the school year in the hospital, instead of in classrooms,” Woods wrote.

Woods’s infection despite vaccination was what’s known as a rare “breakthrough” case. Though he regularly visits schools, his infection came before the school year started and before he’d entered classrooms this year, he wrote. He said his wife had symptoms of the virus while he was hospitalized and was not allowed to visit him. Instead, they could only interact through phone and video calls.

“I would not want anyone, or any loved one, to experience what I went through,” Woods wrote. He encouraged Georgians to consider getting vaccinated.

“The decision to get vaccinated is a very personal and private one, but I urge you to consult trusted medical professionals and information, considering your health and the health of loved ones.”

Woods was given a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last spring, announcing it in a March 17 Facebook post.

“As I received my shot yesterday, I felt so grateful for the scientists who produced safe and effective vaccines just one year into this pandemic, and for all those working hard to distribute those vaccines to Georgians,” he wrote at the time, urging others to follow him:

“This is a step we can all take together toward a return to normalcy for Georgia’s schools and students.”

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