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San Diego County reports first COVID-19 case in fully vaccinated person with minimal symptoms

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Posted at 2:13 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 18:27:18-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County public health officials said Wednesday they have confirmed the first case of someone being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who tested positive for the virus, though it was clear if that person had come into contact with the virus before or after their second dose.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the medical director of the county's Health and Human Services Agency's Epidemiology and Immunization Branch, said during a Wednesday press conference that the case was confirmed in the last 48 hours in a healthcare worker and the person showed minimal symptoms.

McDonald didn't say when the person may have come into contact with the virus or specify how, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it can take a few weeks after the second dose to reach full protection.

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"We know that the vaccine is not perfect. It is very good at preventing bad outcomes from COVID, that is death and hospitalization," McDonald said. "But a very small percentage of individuals, we would expect actually even getting their full vaccine, may come down with symptoms and, in fact, maybe contagious with others."

McDonald added that the county expects to see more of these cases as more individuals receive the vaccine, but that they "expect the number to be low. We expect most of the cases to be like the one that was reported, which is minimal symptoms."

Health experts say that getting the vaccine is still the best way to prevent the spread and severe cases of the virus. The CDC says the vaccines "may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19," and "may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19."

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is 94.1% effective while the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective against COVID-19.

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"We looking at those cases by analyzing them, by whole genome sequence, to see what relationship that has to the vaccine," McDonald said.

The CDC also says more studies are underway to research how well vaccines prevent people from spreading the virus and the severity of illness from COVID-19.

After getting the vaccine, health officials say wearing masks and social distancing will continue to help reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it.