RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Doctors across the country are hearing reports of a very small number of people testing positive for COVID-19 even after receiving two doses of the vaccine.
It’s happened to a congressman from Massachusetts and at least one man from California.
While Wakemed Urgent Care Doctor Christopher Chao says he hasn’t seen it in central North Carolina yet, he won’t be surprised if he does.
“A vaccine is never 100% ,” he explained. “When you look at a 95% efficacy: if 100 patients develop COVID, you would still expect five patients out of that the vaccine group to potentially become infected with COVID.”
Even if infected, though, he says vaccines significantly lower chances of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, and that’s what they’re supposed to do.
“The vaccine works by decreasing my risk of developing severe symptoms. It decreases my risk of potentially needing hospitalization,” he said.
It’s not yet clear whether the vaccine actually protects most people from becoming infected with coronavirus, or whether it simply protects them from becoming sick if they get infected, in which case they may still test positive even if they feel fine.
“We don’t know if a vaccinated individual can still get COVID and be asymptomatic or if they can still get COVID and pass it along to other people,” notes Chao.
That’s why he says it’s so important to continue taking precautions even after receiving the vaccine.
“My wife and I work in health care. Both of us have received both of our vaccines; we still wear a mask. We still social distance; we still avoid high-risk behavior,” he said.
Chao added that someone could also test positive if they became infected before the vaccine took full effect, which isn’t until at least seven days after the second dose, or if they were infected with the virus weeks or even months before getting the vaccine.
He says some people continue to test positive for 90 days after infection.
According to Chao, even if people test positive, as long as the vaccine’s keeping them out of the hospital, it is doing its job.