OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Health is investigating reports of people in the state who tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they were fully vaccinated.
Scientists call these "vaccine breakthrough" cases, which officials said are expected with any vaccine.
Out of 1 million fully vaccinated people in Washington state, epidemiologists report evidence of 102 breakthrough cases in 18 counties since Feb. 1, State officials said Tuesday in a news release. That represents .01 percent of vaccinated people in Washington.
The majority of those in the state with confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced only mild symptoms, if any, officials said.
However, since Feb, 1, eight people with vaccine breakthrough have been hospitalized and officials are investigating potential vaccine breakthrough cases in which two people died, officials said. Both patients were older than 80 and had underlying health issues, officials said.
"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."
Shah said after testing positive for the virus, he advises people to continue with health and safety measures.
"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 Secretary Shah.
The Department of Health confirms a breakthrough case with a positive PCR test or Antigen test in a person more than two weeks after they have received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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