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San Diego ER nurse tests positive for COVID-19 eight days after being vaccinated

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A nurse in the San Diego area has tested positive for COVID-19 just eight days after receiving the first of two Pfizer vaccines for the virus. Health experts lined up to give their opinions on why this happened. The prevailing theory is that the nurse had already contracted COVID-19 and it had not presented itself yet. Patients have a 50% immunity after the first shot as well.

Matthew W., 45, who is an ER nurse at two different hospitals, took to Facebook and posted on December 19 his experience in receiving the Pfizer vaccine that day. He told ABC 10News his arm was sore for a day but he suffered no other side effects.

Six days after that on Christmas Eve, Matthew started getting sick. He had just finished working a shift in the COVID-19 unit when he got the chills and later came down with muscle aches and fatigue. His symptoms peaked on Christmas.

The day after Christmas, he went to a drive-up hospital testing site and tested positive for COVID-19.

“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. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego. He serves on the clinical advisory panel for the county’s vaccine rollout.

Other physicians also chimed in: “I have no problem putting needles in people as a doctor, I do not particularly enjoy having needles put in me,” says Dr. Amy Herold who is the Chief Medical Officer at Napa’s Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

In regards to what happened to the nurse in San Diego, “My guess is that they were exposed just before they got the vaccine and they weren’t showing symptoms yet or just afterwards,” says Dr. Herold.

It is very possible that the nurse was infected before receiving the vaccine. The incubation period can be as long as two weeks for the virus.

“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,” stated Dr. Ramers.

This is not the only case either. Dr. Ramers says that he knows of several other local cases where healthcare workers became infected around the time they received the vaccine. Results aren’t immediate from the vaccine. Even after you are vaccinated, it won’t be full protection.

“That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50%, and you need that second dose to get up to 95%,” said Dr. Ramers. And the vaccine is not 100% foolproof.

The doctor pointed out that even with the vaccines, the pandemic is not going to just vanish overnight. There is no silver bullet here.

“You hear health 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,” said Dr. Ramers.

Dr. Ramers also highlighted the fact that this is a great reminder of why masks, handwashing, and other COVID protocols are important, even after receiving the vaccine.

Matthew says he’s feeling better but still feels fatigued. That also is a normal reaction to the virus.

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