The story of an emergency room nurse testing positive for COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated is a reminder that hand washing, social distancing, and wearing masks are still going to be crucial for next year.
Matthew W., a healthy 45-year-old nurse from San Diego, received his dose of the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine on December 18, telling reporters that the only side effect he experienced was arm soreness.
But six days later, after working a shift in the COVID-19 unit, Matthew suddenly experienced chills, muscle pain, and fatigue. Shortly after, a drive-up hospital test confirmed he was positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, said that the situation was expected because ‘patients don’t immediately develop COVID-19 protection after being vaccinated.’
“We know from the vaccine clinical trials that it’s going to take about 10 to 14 days for you to start to develop protection from the vaccine,” Ramers said.
Plus, after those 10 to 14 days, patients still need a second vaccine dose for full protection. “That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%,” he added.
Matthew’s case serves as a reminder that vaccines aren’t a panacea.
Stemming the pandemic will take time, and continued adherence to fundamental public health practices like social distancing, masks, and hand washing is still crucial.