COVID-19 vaccination around the country is well underway— over 738,000 individuals have already been given their first dose of the vaccine as of March 30. Most of those inoculated are healthcare workers and hospital staff, while some are senior citizens and individuals with co-morbidities.
However, this morning, April 12, news broke that 31 hospital workers in Isabela and five in Cagayan tested positive for COVID-19 even after getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Isabela hospital, Faustino Dy Sr. Memorial Hospital, has been put under indefinite lockdown because of the incident. (Read: How do you eat healthy while in quarantine? We asked a nutritionist-dietician!)
This baffled many because of the idea that you wouldn’t get infected once you get your COVID-19 vaccine shot. However, it is a misconception that getting vaccinated will fully prevent you from getting sick with the novel coronavirus— as sometimes, it just lessens symptoms and prevents death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls vaccinated individuals who get infected with COVID-19 as ‘breakthrough cases.’ They say that there are reported cases like this in the US but are rare.
“It’s pretty darn rare. I think it’ll remain that way,” says Dr. Shira Abeles, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health. Between December 2020 and February 2021 alon,
According to statistics from Southern California, between December 2020 and February 2021, less than 1% of 36,600 of those fully vaccinated had become sick with the coronavirus after. Zero had been hospitalized or died, and those who got sick had visibly milder symptoms.
So what are some of the reasons that we would have breakthrough cases?
#1: Weak Immune Response
An immune response is how our body reacts to bacteria, viruses, and other foreign bodies. It is basically how our immune system works. Those with weak immune responses, however, might have a slightly different reaction to these foreign bodies. The same goes for vaccines.
In an ideal setup, vaccines would help our immune systems develop a natural defense against certain illnesses and diseases— but people with weak immune responses might not be experiencing the same effects. Genetics and previous medications might be a factor for this.
#2: Vaccine Administration
Vaccine administration is done by trained and skilled medical professionals to ensure the safety of the patients. But in rare cases, vaccines may be mishandled, thus reducing the efficacy. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)
Factors such as wrong storage temperatures, incorrect administration, or not getting a full dose can affect the efficacy of the vaccines.
#3: New Strains or Variants
Over the past months, a handful of COVID-19 variants have been discovered around the world— UK and South Africa, among others. This might also be a huge factor that affects vaccine efficacy. That’s because the vaccines have not been tested for all variants, and there is still the possibility of new strains arising due to mutations of the virus.