Two people have tested positive for coronavirus after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but this has no impact on the vaccine’s efficacy, experts say. It can take weeks for antibodies to develop after getting a vaccine.
Here’s what you need to know about who caught the virus and exactly what this means in terms of the vaccines.
An ER Nurse Said He Tested Positive Six Days After Being Vaccinated
An ER nurse for two hospitals, Matthew W., said he tested positive for coronavirus after getting the vaccine, 10 News reported. Matthew shared the news in a Facebook message, writing that he got sick on Christmas Eve after working a shift in a COVID-19 unit. He experienced chills, muscle aches, and fatigue and tested positive at a drive-up hospital testing site.
He said he came down with COVID-19 symptoms six days after being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. After his vaccination, he had a sore arm for about a day and no other side effects.
Matthew told 10 News that he’s still fatigued, but he is feeling better and his symptoms had peaked on Christmas Day.
Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon Tested Positive After Getting the Vaccine
In the spirit of full transparency and accountability that Team #FollowTheData operates, I am announcing that my wife and I have tested positive for COVID-19. Read my full statement at https://t.co/IWVzFn3WXD. pic.twitter.com/9WCvBzxmfn
— Auditor Mike Harmon (@KyAuditorHarmon) December 30, 2020
The second person publicly reported to have tested positive after getting a vaccine is Mike Harmon, the state auditor for Kentucky, WRDW reported. He said his wife, Lynn, tested positive the day before he did. They have mild symptoms and are self-isolating.
Harmon got his vaccine on Monday and his positive test came the very next day. Harmon said he believed he was exposed just before or after getting the vaccine.
While the timing of my positive test comes one day after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, I still have full faith in the vaccine itself, and the need for as many people to receive it as quickly as possible. It appears that I may have been unknowingly exposed to the virus and infected either shortly before or after receiving the first dose of the vaccine on Monday. My family’s example underscores the need that we continue to advocate for our front line health workers, first responders, teachers and high-risk individuals to be vaccinated.
The mRNA vaccines don’t give people COVID-19 because they don’t have any live virus, the CDC reported.
The Infected Patients Might Have Already Had COVID-19 When They Were Vaccinated or Caught the Virus Before Developing Antibodies
Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, told 10 News that this isn’t all that unexpected. Ramers said that because the incubation period for the virus can be as long as two weeks, it’s possible that Matthew was already infected before he got the vaccine.
In addition, it takes about 10 to 14 days for antibodies to develop to protect you after receiving a vaccine, so Matthew might not have developed antibodies before getting infected. On top of that, the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine only offers about 50% protection. After the second dose, that protection is about 95%, 10 News reported.
The CDC also reported that COVID-19 vaccines can take weeks for antibodies to develop, writing:
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
This is why people are asked to continue wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands after receiving a vaccine.