Local doctors aren’t surprised by nurse getting COVID-19 after vaccination

Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 6:51 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A California nurse said he tested positive for the coronavirus after he received the first round of a COVID-19 vaccine, but local doctors said this news isn’t surprising.

Medical Director of Disease Control for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Wesley Willeford, said people have the misconception that the vaccine starts working as soon as you get the shot, but he said it takes a little while to build up immunity.

Dr. Willeford said it’s not uncommon for people to become sick after getting a vaccine.

That’s because even after getting the shot, it could take up to a month to get full protection.

“Once you’re vaccinated and get both doses you still need to wait 2 to 4 weeks before really beginning to think about reengaging a lot of activities because your body is going to take a little time to build up a robust immune response,” Dr. Willeford said.

But if you’re feeling a little under the weather after getting the COVID-19 shot, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the virus.

“The thing to look out for is 1. Have you been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or done something that could put you at risk of exposure and then, 2. if the symptoms persist, typically what happens with these symptoms is they really only occur for about one to two days maybe three days at the most and generally will stop,” Dr. Willeford explained.

Doctors said the shots serve as a means of protecting you and those around you, but there’s still a chance that a small percentage of the population will still get COVID-19 despite getting the shot.

“There is going to be a period of time where we’re waiting on everyone to get vaccinated and that we’re still going to need to be doing the things that we have been doing so far in this pandemic keeping our distance from people, trying to avoid large gatherings and trying using our facial coverings when we’re out and about and in the community,” Dr. Willeford said.

Dr. Willeford added that if your symptoms continue beyond a few days after getting the vaccine, you may want to consider getting a COVID-19 test.

It will still be a few months before the vaccine is widely available, but Dr. Willeford encourages everyone to consider getting it.

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