COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s a growing question for those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine: can I still contract the virus after being vaccinated?
Health officials and state leaders say while they are finding cases of individuals still getting sick after receiving their shot, the numbers much smaller than you would even think.
“Your odds of getting sick after getting the vaccine are incredibly low. They’re lower than your odds of getting struck by lightning,” encourages Ohio’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.
More than 3 million Ohioans are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with another nearly 1.3 million having received their first dose.
So, NBC4 spoke with Dr. Vanderhoff to learn how concerned those individuals should be about still contracting COVID-19.
“It’s incredibly rare. In fact, when I look at the numbers nationally both here and in Ohio, they’re far better than I would have predicted, even on the basis of vaccines that have incredible high efficacy rates,” Dr. Vanderhoff admits.
Trials had shown the vaccines to be nearly 95% effective at preventing COVID-19. But Dr. Vanderhoff says that the numbers in real life are much better.
“Nationally, there have been roughly 5,800 breakthroughs. That’s in the context of 78 million doses, so it’s less than 1% of 1%. It’s tiny,” says Dr. Vanderhoff.
So far Ohio has recorded over 150 cases of COVID-19 in the vaccinated population, including 14 hospitalizations, and zero deaths.
But how could the evolving virus impact these numbers?
“It’s done extremely well. And not just against the main variant we’re facing, B117, but also when they looked at B1351, the variant that originally appeared in South Africa,” Dr. Vanderhoff adds.
While small, however, the chance of getting sick after receiving the vaccine does still exist.
“You know most of my stuff was nasal congestion, a little bit of a sore throat. No fever,” says Dr. Anthony Smith.
Smith is an emergency medicine physician. He tested positive for the virus in March after receiving full vaccination back in January.
“I initially was like, ‘No, I’m not sick. This isn’t right,” Smith recalls.
Smith, who also lost his sense of taste and smell briefly, admits he was unlucky, but fortunate to have been vaccinated before his exposure.
“I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I got these symptoms when I was vaccinated, what could have happened if I wasn’t vaccinated?” Smith ponders.
And it’s that message that is being echoed by health experts statewide who are urging Ohioans to roll up their sleeves.
“They’re our path out of this thing. So, the message I’d leave people with is we’re lucky to have these vaccines. Go out and get one,” urges Dr. Vanderhoff.
According to Dr. Vanderhoff, there are some unknowns as it relates to vaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19.
Dr. Vanderhoff says we don’t know if there is anything to link those that have been vaccinated and still gotten sick, but suspects because the numbers are so small, we likely will never know.
He also says there could be uncertainty in terms of the numbers of cases because of people with mild or unrecognized symptoms.
However, Dr. Vanderhoff assures that hospitalization and death numbers among vaccinated individuals are accurate and are evidence that the vaccine is working.