MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A vaccinated Twin Cities woman has a cautionary travel tale after she ended up stuck in Mexico with COVID-19. What happened, she says, proves we’re not ready to move past the pandemic.

“I guess I misunderstood the point of receiving a vaccine,” Maya Buckner said.

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Buckner doesn’t go far without her vaccine card showing she completed the Pfizer series in March — including on a balcony in Cancun, Mexico, where she is now sick with COVID-19.

“Last night I officially lost my taste and smell. I was kind of discouraged,” she said.

Buckner got here on July 18 and was set to fly back to Minnesota Saturday, July 24. That day her swab produced a positive test result, keeping her out of the country.

“I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it,” she remarked.

The 33-year-old has been told her stay will be at least 10 days longer and spent in quarantine.

“It’s so crazy because it’s so beautiful outside, but all I can come on the balcony, like I am now, and then back in the room,” she said.

Buckner doesn’t believe vaccine status is the point of her story. Despite her loss of taste and smell and some fatigue, she says she’s otherwise OK.

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“I feel like this vaccine has been a seatbelt for me. I’m in a really bad car accident but I’m still alive because I’ve been vaccinated,” she said.

Instead, she thinks it points to how more people still need to be protected.

“The more vaccines we have the less susceptible we are to have the virus continue to spread,” she added.

That’s also why she says we should all keep masking and social distancing, safeguards she admits she stopped in recent months. As for her advice to travelers?

“I would say if you have to leave the country right now, don’t,” she said.

Just in case your trip lasts a lot longer than you planned.

If Buckner were to produce a negative test result before Tuesday, Aug. 3 she could fly home sooner, but she doesn’t plan to re-test until her symptoms go away.

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Another friend is in Mexico with her who also tested positive, but is not experiencing any symptoms. Buckner’s case would be considered one of about 3,900 breakthrough cases among Minnesota’s vaccinated population.

Liz Collin