By Zachary Stieber
More than 100 people in Washington state have tested positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, authorities said March 30.
Epidemiologists have found evidence of 102 so-called breakthrough cases since Feb. 1. That number represents 0.01 percent of people in the state who have been fully vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
The CCP virus is also known as SARS-CoV-2.
Eight of the patients required hospitalization and two, both over 80 years old with underlying health issues, died. All contracted the virus more than two weeks after being fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated refers to people receiving both doses of the vaccines produced by Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech. A third option, from Johnson & Johnson, is a single dose.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, further investigation is needed to identify patterns among people who contracted the virus after vaccination.
The cases are confirmed with a positive test. Investigators then work to determine details on what happened.
“It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases. People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and co-workers to do the same,” Umair Shah, the state’s secretary of health, said in a statement.
“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.”
According to U.S. drug regulators, Pfizer’s vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection of the CCP virus. Moderna’s was shown in a clinical trial to be 94.1 percent effective, while Johnson & Johnson’s was 66.9 percent effective. The percentages are for two weeks after the final vaccination.
Other states have seen infections among people who were fully vaccinated.
Officials in Idaho told reporters last week that breakthrough cases have been recorded, although the number was fewer than 100. South Carolina authorities said this week that 134 such cases have been identified throughout the state. Dozens of patients in Florida have contracted the CCP virus more than 14 days after being fully vaccinated.
The Minnesota Department of Health is among the health departments issuing advisories about the breakthrough cases.
In the March 2 release, state officials told health workers that they are “investigating COVID-19 infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic) among people who are appropriately vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine, also called vaccine breakthrough cases.”
The probe will help both Minnesota health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “understand to what extent sub-optimal primary immune responses among specific groups, waning immunity, vaccine compromise, and viral mutations or variants may impact susceptibility to COVID-19 infection after vaccination,” the alert stated.
“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from vaccine breakthrough cases is unknown and therefore isolation (separation from others) is recommended until 10 days have passed since symptom onset (or test date for asymptomatic cases), symptoms are improving, and patient has been afebrile for at least 24 hours, without fever-reducing medication.”