It takes weeks to build immunity after receiving COVID-19 vaccine, doctors say

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Posted at 12:25 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 13:25:55-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As health departments, hospitals and pharmacies ramp up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine around the Kansas City area, doctors have a reminder for people receiving the vaccine: it can take up to six weeks after receiving the injection to build immunity.

The Wyandotte and Johnson county health departments have reported a small number of vaccine recipients testing positive for COVID-19 within days of receiving the vaccine.

“We know that happens,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System. “That was looked at in the studies. Looking at infection in the people who got the vaccine and the people who got the placebo: at seven days and 14 days, we see [rates of COVID-19 infection] are similar. Until that 14-day mark, and then those curves really start to separate and the people that got only placebo got infected more often.”

Advice from doctors is to continue wearing face masks, washing hands and maintaining social distance even after getting a vaccine.

“We need people to leave our vaccination site vaccinated with their mask on and acting the exact way they did when they walked in the building,” said Juliann Van Liew, the director of the Unified Government Public Health Department in Wyandotte County.

Doctors stress the vaccine will not infect the recipient with COVID-19.

“It takes six weeks before you're protected. Nobody's been vaccinated for six weeks so far, so, therefore, that wouldn't be a surprise. Second of all, what you've just recited is a very small number of people, it's not the majority at all. Third, I would expect those numbers will diminish as we get more people vaccinated,” added Doctor Steve Stites, the University of Kansas Health System’s chief medical officer.

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s Epidemiology Director Elizabeth Holzschuh said current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allow people who contracted COVID-19 after their first dose of the vaccine to receive their second dose so long as they are no longer in their infectious period.

Johnson County, KS
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