Firefighter tests positive for COVID-19 after getting vaccinated

VACCINE: Kristan Pereda, LPN, Dept. of Public Health and Social Services, gives the first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a patient during a free vaccination clinic at Okkodo High School Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021 in Dededo. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Reports of a firefighter who recently tested positive for COVID-19 after getting his second dose of the vaccine serves as a cautionary tale, said the chairman of the governor’s Physician Advisory Group.

Dr. Hoa Nguyen, who had heard about the case, said the vaccine’s arrival doesn’t mean the novel coronavirus is no longer here and can no longer infect Guamanians.

“The first vaccine will give you about the 50% immunity, and the second shot will get you to about 95%,” he said. “Even after the second shot, it doesn’t mean you won’t catch the virus.”

He said people can still get infected by the novel coronavirus if you don’t wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and avoid crowds and practice social distancing.

“People think that we have the vaccine, we’re done (with the pandemic). No, no we’re not done,” he said. “The only thing the vaccine does is it cuts down the hospitalization and death rate but it doesn’t mean you won’t catch the virus.”

subhead: Body needs time

The firefighter who recently tested positive for COVID-19 had received his second dose of the vaccine just a few days before he started feeling ill.

According to experts, this can happen, especially if someone had come into contact with a COVID-19 positive case just before or soon after getting the second vaccine shot - this is one of the dangers that firefighters and other first responders face. Symptoms generally begin to appear five to seven days after contact.

Additionally, it takes time for the vaccine to take effect.

“It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. “That means it's possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick.”

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