In many ways, it feels like the United States is reopening—students are back at in-person classrooms, whether that’s on a college campus or primary school, diners are hanging out in restaurants, and concerts and festivals are welcoming back crowds. On the flip side, we also know people continue to not only contract COVID-19 but also die from it. Why? The biggest reason, of course, is that some people refuse to be vaccinated and insist on being out and about in crowds without vaccines or masks. And while the vaccine is great in terms of keeping us healthy, it’s not a guarantee, which is why the anti-vaxxers put not only their health at risk but all of ours.

One family in Springfield, Illinois, is mourning a mother who lost her life to COVID-19, and they’re using her obituary to send a strong and important message to people who refuse the vaccine. Candance Ayers, who died at 66 years old on Sept. 3, had been, according to her family, actually fully vaccinated against the virus since the spring. Her family stresses that she was “infected by others who chose not” to be vaccinated in her obituary. 

The obituary, written by her husband, Terry Ayers, and two adult children, explains that Ayers was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late July. In speaking to the local State Journal-Register, her family shared that Ayers had rheumatoid arthritis, which likely put her at a higher risk for complications. In early September, her family came to the difficult decision to remove her from the ventilator after three weeks because of irreversible lung damage. Ayers died within minutes of being taken off of the ventilator, according to the family. 

“She was preceded in death by more than 4,531,799 others infected with COVID-19,” the obituary reads in part. “She was vaccinated but was infected by others who chose not to be. The cost was her life.”

Ayers and her husband both contracted the virus, but his symptoms, unlike hers, were mild. The family believes Ayers caught the virus while visiting a family friend in Mississippi in July. That friend’s husband, sadly, had also recently passed due to COVID-19.

“This whole thing is so preventable,” Marc Ayers, her 36-year-old son, told the Journal-Register, adding that people have “politicized” the vaccine. “These are the people who have perpetuated the cycle of pain for our family and so many others,” he added. 

In speaking to CNN, Ayers told the outlet he actually took his parents to get the second vaccine dose and stressed that they’re a family that believes in science, masks, and vaccines. Ayers pointed out that when in Mississippi, they were in a state that had one of the “lowest vaccination rates in the country” and that if others had gotten vaccinated and worn a mask, his mother might still be alive today. He added to the outlet that the family had received both negative and positive feedback from readers in terms of the obituary. 

Other surviving families mourning those lost to COVID-19 have also called out the unvaccinated when it comes to spreading the virus. For example, one widow in Iowa blames anti-vaxxers for her husband dying of a breakthrough COVID-19 case, writing in his obituary that his life was “unnecessarily cut short.”

The obituary of a vaccinated Florida man who also died from COVID-19 urges people to get vaccinated. One family in Florida actually used the funeral of a 28-year-old father who died from COVID-19 as a vaccine and testing site. As Daily Kos covered at the time, the daughter of an Arizona man who died from COVID-19 blamed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for reopening the state too early in her father’s obituary. 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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