Getting Answers: Why are some contracting COVID-19 after the first vaccine

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NEW ORLEANS – There is hope in the fight against COVID-19 with vaccines beginning to roll out, but some people are still contracting the virus after they get the first shot.

WGNO is getting answers as to why and if people should still get the second dose.

Doctors say contracting COVID-19 is not from getting the first dose of the vaccine, rather the person receiving it was exposed around the time they were initially vaccinated.

“We know the vaccine does not give automatic immunity, it takes some time to build up that immunity and to get full protection, it takes until after that second dose,” said Dr. Jeffrey Elder, medical director for emergency management at LCMC Health. “This vaccine is not a live or attenuated virus. This vaccine is a piece of messenger RNA that instructs your body to create antibodies. So, there is no chance at all of getting Coronavirus from the vaccine.”

So, should you still get your second dose if you contract COVID in between?

“Once the ultimately improve, get better and get past the acute process they can then go back on the schedule,” Dr. Elder said. “So, if they passed up their 21 day mark because they were ill, once they’re feeling better and no longer symptomatic they can then be vaccinated.”

Elder says once vaccinated, you could experience soreness or headaches for about 24 to 48 hours, but your side effects should quickly improve.

“For people who receive the vaccine and then shortly there after end up with fever, maybe a sore throat, cough or shortness of breath those are things that are not caused by the vaccine and could be Coronavirus. If you have those symptoms, it is important people are still tested,” Dr. Elder said.

He and other healthcare leaders maintain the vaccine is safe and will give the immune system a stronger response to the virus.

“It is still important even if you were ill and you’ve improved and gotten over your acute illness, that you still get vaccinated when your time is available,” Dr. Elder said.

If you get sick in between the shots, Dr. Elder says depending upon your treatment such as monoclonal antibody therapy, you might have to wait to get the second dose. He says it’s always best to talk with your doctor.

Dr. Elder adds, until a large amount of the population is vaccinated, it’s important to keep wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding large crowds.

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