“I took my parents to get that second jab, and we were all so excited,” said their son, Marc Ayers. “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 his mother, 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.
“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 infected with Covid-19. She was vaccinated but was infected by others who chose not to be. The cost was her life.”
The tally represents the total global coronavirus death toll.
“This all could have been avoided,” Ayers said. “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.”
Full vaccination gave relatives confidence
Because Candace had an underlying condition, her family was hesitant for her to leave town.
“My mother had severe rheumatoid arthritis. We were always the most concerned about her getting it because she was immunocompromised,” 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 Mississippi. The Delta variant was just hitting the radar. Breakthrough cases were rare at that point. Our worst nightmare came true.”
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, Marc Ayers said. Sharing daily worldwide Covid-19 death numbers in her obituary aimed to make people take pause, he said.
“This was to illustrate that this isn’t just an issue contained to the US, 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.”
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.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also mischaracterized breakthrough infections.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.