OYLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health announced Tuesday that it is investigating reports of people who tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after being fully vaccinated.
The Department of Health said scientists identified these as “vaccine breakthrough” cases, and that they are expected with any vaccine.
Out of one million Washingtonians who are fully vaccinated, epidemiologists report evidence of 102 breakthrough cases since Feb. 1. This is about .01% of vaccinated people in the state.
Officials said breakthrough cases have been identified in 18 counties.
“It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and coworkers to do the same.”
The Department of Health said a majority of people who have confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced mild symptoms, if any. Since Feb. 1, eight people with vaccine breakthrough have been hospitalized.
“DOH is investigating two potential vaccine breakthrough cases where the patients died. Both patients were more than 80 years old and suffered underlying health issues,” officials said in a news release.
The Department of health confirmed a vaccine breakthrough case with a positive PCR or antigen test in a person more than two weeks after being fully vaccinated.
“Finding evidence of vaccine breakthrough cases reminds us that, even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, practice socially distancing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others who have not been vaccinated,” said Shah.
Officials said studies found that vaccines reduced the risk of getting COVID-19 in vaccinated people by up to 95% compared to people that did not receive the vaccine. However, the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infection. A small percentage of vaccinated people could still get infected.