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Employees at Moses Lake health care facility test positive for COVID after being vaccinated

Pharmacists prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to a press conference at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on Dec. 28, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington.(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Washington state may have its first cases of breakthrough coronavirus, when someone who has been fully vaccinated still catches COVID-19.

Confusion remains as to what’s safe for vaccinated patients

Dr. Andrea Carter with Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake says a few employees are testing positive after getting both COVID-19 vaccine shots. The test results are being examined to determine if they are false positives or if the workers might have contracted a newer variant.

“We’ve had a couple of employees that have been fully vaccinated and then become positive, but we don’t have definitive results yet. That just happened in the last few days,” Carter said.

None of the vaccines approved for use at this time provide 100% protection against COVID-19, and it can take up to two weeks after being fully vaccinated for antibodies to develop. However, Overlake Medical Center’s Dr. Amy Markezich says she knows of no cases in western Washington where someone has contracted COVID after being fully vaccinated.

“The patients I’ve seen who have gotten their first dose and came in with COVID are patients who started getting symptoms just a couple days after getting their first dose, so they were probably infected or exposed even before getting the first dose,” she said.

Virologist explains why distancing alone won’t protect students, teachers

On KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show, virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen said the vaccines are good at preventing serious disease, but it’s not known how good they are at preventing infection altogether. She also says it’s still unknown if those who are vaccinated can infect those who are not.

“It’s not unexpected that people who have been vaccinated will end up testing positive,” she said. “… The vaccines are still incredibly beneficial, even if they’re not 100%.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Rasmussen below: 

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report. Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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