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Baton Rouge resident among rare group of people who get COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 3:51 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There are some people in Louisiana who have gotten fully vaccinated, yet they have still contracted COVID-19.

The breakthrough COVID-19 cases reported in Louisiana and across the nation are being tracked. In those instances, two weeks after a person is considered fully vaccinated against the virus is when they test positive for it.

Shawn Zeringue of Baton Rouge thought he was pretty protected against COVID-19 after he got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the beginning of March.

“No particular reason why I picked Johnson and Johnson, other than that was the quickest available and that was the first appointment,” said Zeringue.

But about two weeks ago, he woke up with some congestion.

“After lunch, I realized that I really couldn’t taste what I ate. So, I thought that was a little strange. Oddly enough, I lit a candle and a little while later, I couldn’t smell the candle,” Zeringue added.

He went to Urgent Care and took a COVID-19 test. It came back positive.

“Followed all the guidelines that they sent out, got my vaccine as a precaution, and still managed to get the virus after the fact,” Zeringue noted.

He said he only lost his taste and smell for around 24 hours.

“And, I mean, I did have a little bit of fatigue and I dealt with the congestion but you know, I am very fortunate and counting my blessings that it wasn’t worse than it was,” Zeringue explained.

According to the CDC, Zeringue is part of a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated and still contract COVID-19 if they were exposed to the virus.

“This happens; it’s a far, far minority of cases but the take-home point here is that no vaccine is 100% effective 100% of the time,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health. “And so, we track these cases very, very closely.”

So how rare are these breakthrough cases?

Louisiana break through cases
Louisiana break through cases(LDH)

In Louisiana, out of 1,349,231 people who have completed their vaccine series:

  • The Health Department reported 631 breakthrough cases. Which is 0.05% of everyone fully vaccinated.
  • Of those breakthrough cases, 30 people have had to go to the hospital, which is 0.002% of everyone fully vaccinated.
  • 10 people have passed away, which is 0.0008% of everyone who is fully vaccinated.
Louisiana breakthrough cases.
Louisiana breakthrough cases.(LDH)
Louisiana breakthrough cases.
Louisiana breakthrough cases.(CDC)

Across the nation, when it comes to breakthrough case numbers as of two weeks ago (CDC data):

  • 9245 breakthrough cases have been reported
  • 835 hospitalizations
  • 132 deaths

“But these are really encouraging numbers. And it’s rare to have a vaccine this efficacious,” Dr. Kanter added.

So, while you can still get coronavirus if you’re fully vaccinated, the odds are you probably won’t.

Zeringue believes the vaccine did help keep his symptoms mild.

“So, the worse is over and I think I’m good to go. But like I said, I’ll probably just lay low for the next couple of days, maybe buy a lottery ticket, if the odds of me getting it are that rare,” Zeringue joked.

The CDC believes there is evidence that getting vaccinated may make your illness less severe.

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