SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Santa Barbara family's ordeal illustrates how dangerous a contagious coronavirus variant is and underscores the importance of getting vaccinated.
When 19-year-old Wyatt decided not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, his mom, Carrie Mitchum, was livid.
"You have no idea," she said in an interview with ABC7. "He wasn't allowed to come back to my house."
Mitchum kept her distance until late May when her son competed in a large mixed martial arts tournament in Reno. Wyatt's dad joined them and within days, "Both my son and his father who were not vaccinated started having symptoms," she said.
Wyatt had severe flu-like symptoms and loss of smell for more than a week. His father ended up in the hospital.
"His lungs and his liver are permanently damaged," Mitchum said, referring to Wyatt's father. "His eyesight is permanently damaged."
Neither Wyatt nor his dad were vaccinated, but Mitchum said they ended up infecting a group of people who were vaccinated including Wyatt's girlfriend, his grandfather his best friend and some of his best friend's family. All tested positive. All had mild disease. The variant that caused all these breakthrough infections?
"The doctors told my ex that he had what was called Delta plus," Mitchum said.
Dr. Samuel Fink is an Internist in Tarzana. He said the Delta plus is variant on top of a variant.
"And this variant is particularly bad for people that are not vaccinated. I can tell you that I'm seeing breakthroughs really for the first time over the last couple of weeks. This has really coincided with the arrival of the Delta variant in Los Angeles," Fink said.
While the vaccines work and can prevent severe illness, Fink said they may not protect vaccinated people from getting infected and transmitting the virus.
"Wear a mask. Quarantine if you're around somebody with COVID. As long as we all remember to care about each other, we can handle this," he said.
Mitchum, who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, tested negative. After what happened to her family, she hopes everyone understands why we all need to get vaccinated.
"If you don't do it for yourself, be willing to do it for someone else because that's how contagious this is," she said.