Compiled By Markson Omagor
A nurse in Wales caught coronavirus three weeks after getting the vaccine, prompting experts to warn that it takes time for immunity to the virus to build up.
The nurse, who has been working for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, said that she contracted Covid-19 while waiting for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech developed vaccine.
While the vaccine ‘reduces your chance of suffering,’ the health board said, ‘no vaccine is 100 percent effective.’
Experts have warned that vaccines can take weeks to build immunity, and that people must still be careful to follow coronavirus rules after having the jab.
Speaking to the BBC, the nurse – who chose not to be identified – said she was ‘angry and heartbroken’ to have caught Covid at this stage.
She said that she was initially relieved to be offered the chance to be given the vaccine, and while she struggled to get an appointment, she was given her first dose of the Pzizer-BioNtech vaccine in December last year.
‘It gave me peace of mind. It made me feel safer and that I was doing the right thing for my family… but it gives a false sense of security,’ she told the broadcaster.
The nurse said that it was explained to her that it would take 10 days for the vaccine to offer some protection against Covic-19, and reduce the risk of transmission.
But three weeks after being given the jab, she said she began to feel unwell, suffering from ‘quite severe symptoms’ of a bad cough, high temperature and breathlessness, and was ‘shocked’ when she tested positive for the coronavirus – followed by her partner and one of her children.
Vaccinations have been shown to prevent severe infection, so even if people do become infected, they would be protected from becoming seriously unwell.
So far, three vaccines have been approved for use in the UK, with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine – which started to be rolled out to the country’s most vulnerable people last month – offering up to 95 percent protection against Covid-19.
The Pfizer vaccine and another developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are now being rolled out. A third from Moderna was approved for use in the UK Friday.
Professor Tim Spector, who heads up the ZOE Symptom Tracker App study, told The Sun that junior NHS staff members have also reported getting the virus after being given the Pfizer jab.
‘We are getting reports of reinfections, some soon after vaccination, “I’m a junior doctor and have had Covid twice the last one five days post vaccination…”‘, he wrote on Twitter.
‘Remember vaccinations take several weeks to have a preventive effect so keep alert and keep logging!’
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford advised people receiving the vaccine to ‘continue to act in a precautionary way’ after being administered the jab.
He said those people should ‘recognise the new protection that they have’ but ‘recognise as well that for many weeks, and for some months ahead, coronavirus is going to continue to be a feature of all our lives’.
Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer of the Hywel Dda health board released a statement saying it was ‘always distressing’ to hear about staff catching Covid-19.
‘Whilst the vaccine reduces your chance of suffering from Covid-19, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective,’ he said.
‘There is particular risk that you may have contracted Covid-19 immediately prior to having the vaccine without knowing it, or that you may contract it in the week or two following vaccination as your body builds up protection.
‘We have communicated the UK policy and assurances on second doses to our staff and assured them they will receive their second dose within 12 weeks of the first.’
He added: ‘Working within the NHS at the moment is very challenging and we acknowledge how difficult this is.
‘Staff have worked tirelessly and made many sacrifices on behalf of caring for our communities and we are extremely grateful. We have put in place additional support and counselling and psychological support services.’
The board said that so far it has already vaccinated more than 10,000 high-risk people, including front line NHS staff.
Prof Spector also noted that you can’t test positive for the coronavirus as a result of getting the vaccine, because while the jabs contain active mRNA, they do not contain an active virus.
The body is given a set of instructions through the use of mRNA in the jabs, which tell cells to make proteins and send them to different parts of the body.
Rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began last year on December 8, targeting the country’s most vulnerable people, such as residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults, as well as those over the age of 80 and other front line health a social care workers.
Originally, advice in the UK was that after having the first dose of the vaccine, people would need the second dose three weeks later.
But this later changed to 12 weeks on advice of the UK’s chief medical officers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) however, does not recommend the UK’s approach, but has ‘made a provision for countries in exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints and epidemiological settings’ to delay the second dose for a few weeks to enable more people to get the first dose.
Pfizer said that it had tested the vaccine’s effectiveness only when the two doses were given up to 21 days apart from one-another.