Fully vaccinated San Antonio retiree among rare COVID-19 breakthrough deaths

“I can’t imagine how much more he would have suffered if he had not gotten the vaccine.”

SAN ANTONIO – As their only child, Yvonne Rodriguez said she made sure her parents Patricio and Sylvia Elizondo were vaccinated early on against COVID-19.

After her mother passed away three months ago after a long illness, Rodriguez said she continued watching over her 76-year-old father who was diabetic and had heart problems.

“We did all the right things,” Rodriguez said.

Yvonne Rodriguez and Patricio Elizondo (Yvonne Rodriguez)

She said he rarely left the house, was always masked up, and even wore gloves, so she doesn’t know how or where he caught COVID-19.

When he began feeling ill about a week ago, Rodriguez said she thought it was a recurrence of his earlier congestive heart failure or a recurring infection he’d had.

After several doctor and hospital visits, Rodriguez said his cardiologist admitted him into hospital because he was having difficulty breathing.

A chest x-ray revealed an unwelcomed surprise.

“When I found out he had Covid, I was just really shocked,” Rodriguez said. “That was the last time that I got to see my dad in person.”

Before her mother died, Rodriguez said she had told her, “I’ll take care of Dad. I promised her, so I kind of felt like I had let her down.

Patricio and Sylvia Elizondo (Yvonne Rodriguez)

Although the nurses and chaplain at Northeast Baptist Hospital made it possible to at least visit with her father on Zoom or Facetime, Rodriguez said she begged to see him, if only for a few minutes.

Her father passed away Tuesday.

Rodriguez said the cardiologist told her what led to her father’s death wasn’t his heart, “It was the damage done to his lungs from Covid.”

Yet despite the heartache and loss, Rodriguez said she still believes in the vaccines.

Patricio and Sylvia Elizondo (Yvonne Rodriguez)

“I saw my dad, how sick as he was,” she said. “I can’t imagine how much more he would have suffered if he had not gotten the vaccine.”

“I think she’s right,” said Dr. Jan Patterson, an infectious disease specialist at UT Health.

Patterson said the reported 43 breakthrough deaths out of nearly 9,000 deaths in Texas since February, “were in people who had underlying conditions and were very elderly.”

Rudy Arispe, spokesman for the Metropolitan Health District, said of the more 1,500 deaths last week, only four were fully vaccinated.

“All had severe underlying medical conditions and other factors that contributed,” Arispe said.

Although the Delta variant is much more transmissible, Patterson said “We do know that the vaccine is highly effective against hospitalizations and death the majority of the time.”

Patricio Elizondo (Yvonne Rodriguez)

Rodriguez said she wants more people to understand getting vaccinated isn’t just for their own sake, but also for those like her father.

She said, “We need to think of others.”

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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