AN ER nurse has tested positive for Covid-19 eight days after receiving a vaccination against the virus.
California nurse Matthew W, 45, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on December 18, but tested positive for Covid-19 the day after Christmas after starting to feel unwell.
The ER nurse – who works at two hospitals in San Diego – had been working a shift in a Covid-19 unit and came down with the chills, muscle aches and fatigue on Christmas Eve, reported 10 News.
The day after Christmas, he went to a drive-up hospital testing site and tested positive for Covid-19.
The positive test result came just eight days after the nurse posted an excited message on his social media sharing news of his first vaccine dose.
“Got my Covid vaccine! The 15 minutes afterward sitting around with a bunch of others while health care workers asked us how we felt made me think of an opium den. I’ll report back if I start to grow a third arm,” Matthew wrote on Instagram.
According to clinical trial results, the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is 95 per cent effective at preventing the virus.
But as the vaccine comes in two doses, it only provides that high level of immunity when both jabs have been completed.
Regulators of the Pfizer vaccine have found that the best protection against Covid-19 comes seven days after the second dose.
That is given three weeks after the first jab, meaning it’s possible someone who got the vaccine could still contract the virus as they wouldn’t have full immunity.
Health experts warned people getting vaccinated to be aware that catching Covid-19 after receiving the first jab is “not unexpected at all”.
This is exactly what we’d expect to happen if someone was exposed
Dr Christian Ramers
Dr Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego, said he was not surprised by Matthew contracting the virus.
“It’s not unexpected at all. If you work through the numbers, this is exactly what we’d expect to happen if someone was exposed,” said Dr Ramers, who serves on the clinical advisory panel for the county’s vaccine rollout.
He points out Matthew could have already been infected before receiving the vaccine, as the incubation period may be as much as two weeks.
Dr Ramers says if Matthew did contract it after he received the vaccine, it’s still in line with clinical trial results.
“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,” said Dr Ramers.
“That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%.”
Two Covid-19 vaccines, from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have now been given emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, meaning the first tranche of frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable people can be vaccinated.
But critics have warned the vaccine program is already falling far short of its targets, with just 10 per cent of projected jabs administered.
The Trump administration’s vaccine program, Operation Warp Speed, planned to provide 40 million doses of vaccines between the two companies by the end of the year, which would’ve been enough for roughly 20 million people since each drug requires two shots at differing intervals.
As of Tuesday, however, it seemed far short of that goal: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said just over 11.4 million doses had been distributed since December 13 but only about 2.1 million had been administered, CNBC reports.
Leading politicians including Joe Biden, Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi have been pictured getting the jab.
In the UK, a new vaccine from the Oxford/Astra Zeneca team has received approval for rollout and has “very effective protection” from the coronavirus with the first dose, according to health experts.
Millions of Brits will be vaccinated with the Oxford jabs from January 4, with a second dose not needed until 12 weeks later.
Dr Ramers added that in the US, he expected there would be a “slow roll” in bringing the vaccine to the general population.
“You hear heath practitioners being very optimistic about it being the beginning of the end, but it’s going to be a slow roll, weeks to months as we roll out the vaccine,” he said.
He added Matthew W’s case is a reminder of why masks, handwashing, and other Covid-19 protocols are important, even after receiving the vaccine.
Matthew says he’s feeling better since his symptoms peaked on Christmas Day but still feels fatigued.