Update, 2 p.m. Wednesday: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 145 people contracted Covid at least 14 or more days after their second vaccine, as of March 16.
Nearly 1.3 million Michiganders are fully vaccinated, which means the number of fully protected residents getting Covid is minuscule. (See more details below.)
Original article, Tuesday evening:
An Oakland County woman who received her second Pfizer Covid shot Feb. 5 said she tested positive for the virus on Monday, a reminder that the vaccinations aren't foolproof and people still need to take precautions.
The woman is in her early 50s and active, but has autoimmune issues. She tells Deadline Detroit she first started feeling sick last Thursday, but didn't suspect she had Covid. On Monday, the woman, who requested anonymity, said she was achy, congested and had difficulty breathing.
So she drove to an emergency clinic, which sent her to the ER at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, which ran tests. She requested one for Covid. After some hours, the hospital confirmed she tested positive for the virus, though it wasn't immediately known if it was a variant.
"I was shocked, but not really shocked," she said. She went home Monday night and told she would be able to get antiviral drugs on Tuesday or Wednesday. As of Tuesday evening, she still felt fatigued, achy and had breathing issues, but had yet to get the treatment from Beaumont. The hospital said she's on a waiting list.
The woman said she's been very careful, wearing a mask and keeping her social circle extremely small, though she said she had been exposed to relatives who had been traveling.
She is not included in the state's figures since they only go through March 16. Her test came back positive on Monday, March 22.
No 100% safeguard
Medical authorites say there have been occasional instances of fully vaccinated people around the country contracting Covid. But they say the shot is still worth getting to protect most against the virus, or at least getting seriously ill from it.
"There have been some reports of Covid-19 among people who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and CDC has a team studying these breakthrough cases," Kristen Nordlund, a spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control said in a statement to Deadline Detroit.
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"It is expected that some people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 will still get Covid-19," she said. "Clinical studies showed currently authorized vaccines are highly effective, but not 100% effective. Some people who are fully vaccinated will still get sick."
She said the agency hopes to soon have statistics on those individuals.
Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said some vaccinated people included in the 145 state total may ultimately be excluded from the list "due to continuing to test positive from a recent infection prior to being fully vaccinated. "
To date, the state has vaccinated 16.5 percent of Michiganders 16 and over. In all, 1,288,291 have gotten second doses of the vaccine, according to the state.
"Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are considered 95% and 94% effective respectively, which means that while it is significantly less likely, it is still possible to contract the virus after being vaccinated," Sutfin said. "Studies indicate that even if vaccinated people do become ill, they are far less likely to experience severe illness requiring hospitalization or resulting in death."
But she added that "the possibility of infection and further transmission is why we continue to encourage Michiganders to take precautions while out in public, including wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, even after receiving the vaccine until more Michiganders have been able to be vaccinated."
'A marked reduction'
The very low number of fully vaccinated people who get infected is best illustrated in studies cited in The New England Journal of Medicine.
One found that four of 8,121 fully vaccinated employees at the Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas still contracted Covid. Another study at UC San Diego Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California found seven out of 14,990 workers tested positive two or more weeks after getting a second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
A group of doctors at the Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas wrote Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine:
The effect of vaccination on the preservation of our workforce has been dramatic. We observed a greater than 90% decrease in the number of employees who are either in isolation or quarantine. Real-world experience with SARS-CoV-2 vaccination at UTSW has shown a marked reduction in the incidence of infections among employees. This decrease has preserved the workforce when it was most needed.
At recent hearing Republican Sen. Rand Paul accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of "theater" for wearing two masks, even after being fully vaccinated.
"You're telling everybody to wear a mask, whether they've had an infection or a vaccine," Paul said to Fauci. "What I'm saying is that they have immunity, and everybody agrees they have immunity. What studies do you have that people that have had the vaccine or have had the infection or the vaccine are spreading the infection? If we're not spreading the infection, isn't that just theater? You've had the vaccine and you're wearing two masks, isn't that theater?"
"No, it's not — here we go again with the theater. Let's get down to the facts," Fauci responded.
Fauci said last week that there's lingering questions about vaccines and the immunocompromised, according to a report in USA Today:
It's remains unclear, he said at a news conference, whether people who are immunocompromised make a comparable immune response to those without these conditions, whether the protection from vaccines will last as long in them and whether they will be able to transmit the disease after vaccination.