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California nurse tests positive for COVID-19 before receiving second vaccine dose: report

The Hill logo The Hill 12/30/2020 Cameron Jenkins
a person wearing a mask: California nurse tests positive for COVID-19 before receiving second vaccine dose: report © Getty Images California nurse tests positive for COVID-19 before receiving second vaccine dose: report

A California nurse reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week after he received the first of two Pfizer vaccine doses.

The nurse, identified as Matthew W., said in a Facebook post that he got the first vaccine dose on Dec. 18 and only experienced slight arm soreness at the time, according to ABC 10News in San Diego.

Within six days of receiving the shot, the 45-year-old emergency room nurse began to experience chills, muscle pain and fatigue, all of which have been identified as symptoms of the coronavirus, the ABC affiliate reported this week.

He told the station he had been working a shift in the COVID-19 unit of the hospital the day he felt ill, and later took a test for the virus that confirmed he was positive.

Infectious disease specialist Christian Ramers, who works with Family Health Centers out of San Diego, told the station it is not unexpected for someone who has been vaccinated to contract the virus. Ramers explained that it takes a while for the vaccine to develop its protection from COVID-19.

"We know from the vaccine clinical trials that it's going to take about 10 to 14 days for you to start to develop protection from the vaccine," Ramers said, adding that the first dose of the vaccine does not provide complete protection from the virus on its own.

"That first dose we think gives you somewhere around 50 percent, and you need that second dose to get up to 95 percent," he said.

Ramers went on to say that it's possible the nurse had contracted the virus prior to receiving the first vaccine dose.

With the coronavirus incubation period lasting nearly 14 days, the nurse may have not begun to show symptoms until after he was vaccinated, ABC 10News reported.

"You hear health practitioners being very optimistic about it being the beginning of the end, but it's going to be a slow roll, weeks to months as we roll out the vaccine," Ramers said.

The vaccine has begun to roll out slowly across the United States, with many first responders and health care workers being among the first to receive it.

Earlier this week, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her first dose of the vaccine and encouraged Americans to get theirs once it is available.

"It is relatively painless. It happens really quickly. It is safe," Harris said at the time.

"Literally, this is about saving lives," she added. "I trust the scientists, and it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine."

Updated at 6:32 p.m.

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