AUSTIN (KXAN) — After speaking to a Central Texas woman on Monday about contracting COVID-19 after getting vaccinated, KXAN wanted to find out how many others had a similar experience.
There have been 13 people across the state of Texas who have tested positive for the virus 14 days or more after receiving their second COVID-19 shot, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. That’s called a “vaccine breakthrough.”
That’s out of nearly 3 million Texans who have been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
“There is never 100% immunity through vaccination, so a small number of these cases are inevitable. Immunity depends on each person’s reaction to the vaccine, and those who are older typically take longer to build immunity through vaccine. However, all three COVID-19 vaccines now being administered are proven to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death for those fully vaccinated,” explained DSHS spokesperson Douglas Loveday.
The dashboard indicates 112,559 people in Travis County have been fully vaccinated and Austin Public Health says fewer than 12 of those people have since contracted COVID-19.
The agency couldn’t give a more specific number, saying that number includes both vaccine breakthroughs as well as people who have been re-infected with COVID-19 according to CDC parameters.
“Say they got an initial COVID diagnosis and within 90 days got another diagnosis — they would be a reinfection case,” explained APH spokesperson Matt Lara.
It’s all part of why Catherine Wicker is listening to health leaders by masking up and limiting social interactions, even though she’s fully vaccinated.
“We get the flu vaccine every year. We know it’s not 100% effective from keeping us from getting the flu, but what it does is that makes the symptoms a lot less severe,” she said. “So, I’m looking at the COVID vaccine right now as more of the flu vaccine until we do know more long term — does it need to be a yearly vaccine? Are we going to need to get boosters?”
The Texas State graduate student has lived with multiple chronic health conditions for almost 20 years.
“For me the past year has been incredibly scary,” Wicker said. “You never know with people, if they could be carrying COVID, if they were asymptomatic.”
She says even though she’s still taking precautions, the vaccine has given her peace of mind.
“The vaccine gave me a sense of calmness, to be able to safely be out in my community with less fear of day-to-day life,” she said.
Lara says APH tracks vaccine breakthroughs and re-infections, which are both rare cases, one-by-one.
“Austin Public Health must be notified of any positive results for COVID-19, among various other diseases,” he said. “During the case investigation process, they would find out and typically see that someone has been vaccinated for — against COVID and then they’re 14 days past receiving the vaccination, because that’s really when vaccination takes its full efficacy.”
He says APH doesn’t do any further testing to determine why a vaccine breakthrough occurred, but it does contact trace to determine how the patient may have contracted the virus, as it does with all other COVID-19 positive cases.
“Who were you around? What are the locations you went to?” Lara said.
In a press conference Friday, Austin Public Health says overall, COVID-19 cases are dropping off and it hopes that remains the case after spring break.
“We are seeing numbers of new cases decline and we hope it stays that way,” said Janet Pichette, Austin Public Health Chief Epidemiologist. “However, we know that people have been out enjoying spring break and have possibly placed themselves in situations where they gathered with people without masks or may have unnecessarily exposed themselves.”