MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials are looking out for positive cases of COVID-19 after someone has been fully vaccinated.
These types of infections are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” The Minnesota Department of Health says tracking positive cases 14 days or more after a second vaccine is important. It could help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention better understand the length of immunity from the vaccines.
Karla was relieved when her 79-year-old mom, Sharon, received her second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 10. Thirteen days later, she tested positive for the virus after feeling unwell.
“I was really worried about her,” Karla said. “She had a sore throat and a cough, and I’m like, ‘Mom, you need to go get tested for COVID.’”
Within a few days, she felt fine. New data suggests people are well protected after their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and about 95% effective after the second dose, according to Kris Ehresmann of MDH.
“The vaccine is 95% effective, that means that theoretically of 100 people vaccinated there may be five who don’t have the same level of response to provide protection,”” Ehresmann said.
MDH sent out an advisory to healthcare providers this week, asking them to look for people who test positive for COVID 14 days after completing the second dose, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Though Sharon’s case isn’t considered a vaccine breakthrough since her positive test came before the two-week cutoff after her second dose, health officials say it’s a reminder to continue to take precautions.
“You still need to mask, you still need to make sure you’re socially distancing and consider those mitigation guidelines measures that we’ve been talking about for the last year,” Ehresmann said.
Karla says she’s grateful her mom only had mild symptoms.
“It’s possible that if she wouldn’t have had the vaccine it could have been totally a different story,” she said.
MDH says they have had 14 breakthrough cases of COVID confirmed in Minnesota. All of them were in healthcare workers, and were only detected because they’re routinely tested for work. Also, all had mild or no symptoms.
The CDC says even getting the flu vaccine only reduces your risk by 40% to 60%.