(Courtesy of SMGH) “Today, I am going to interview a patient who contracted COVID, even after having the vaccines,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison with St. Mary’s General Hospital. “Here’s a case of a person who followed all the precautions and still got COVID. However…”
George: Good evening. So, you recently got COVID after having your vaccines and taking all the necessary precautions. Can you tell us more?
Patient: My wife and I had the Pfizer vaccines in February. Our son came in to visit from out of town to stay with us for a couple of weeks over the holidays. He also had the vaccines in March. While he was here, he and I attended our local shul for davening. Masks were optional, so we didn’t wear them because we were vaccinated. He was here for approximately 10 days when he wasn’t feel too well. He has asthma, so there is always concern.
George: Since he was vaccinated, why the concern over COVID?
Patient: The concern was not necessarily COVID, but his respiratory health. On the advice of his doctor, on Thursday evening he went to get tested for COVID. That Shabbat, we went to shul and had our Shabbat meals with company as we always do. On Motzei Shabbat, he had a voicemail to tell him that he tested positive for COVID and that he needed to talk to his doctor. So he called right away.
George: Did his doctor say anything about you?
Patient: No, my wife and I had not been tested as had our son. So we took him to a place recommended by his doctor where they ran more tests and determined that he definitely had COVID and should get monoclonal antibodies, which he did.
George: What about you and your wife?
Patient: My wife and I thought that as long as we were here, let us also get tested. They came back with the results later—which shocked me. My wife was negative and I had COVID. What was really surprising was that I had no symptoms—no fever or chills, no cough or breathing difficulties, no muscle aches, runny nose or nausea or diarrhea—NOTHING! I was still doing my mile-plus walks every day, working and all the normal activities.
George: Wow. That has to be a shocker for you. What did they do?
Patient: They asked if I wanted the monoclonal antibodies, and I said yes. So, they took me into a special section and started the drip, which they said would take about an hour, and then I had to stay there for another hour to see if there was any reaction. I told my wife to go home, but she wanted to wait for us. So my son and I spent two hours getting the drip and verifying that there were no reactions. When everything was OK, they discharged us and we got home at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday.
George: Other than the lack of sleep, was there anything else they told you?
Patient: Yes, I asked if there were any restrictions and they said that we should quarantine for 10 days and wear a mask. After 10 days, get retested and, if negative—back to normal. Because we had the vaccines, our case was mild and not as severe as one would suffer who was not vaccinated,
George: Let’s see if I get this straight: You had both vaccines, were normally careful in your daily routines, doing exercise and eating healthy, wearing masks where appropriate and you still got COVID?
Patient: That’s correct. With all of that, can you imagine what it is for people who are not vaccinated? was shown what happens when a patient has COVID and has to be intubated, and it is not pleasant.
A breathing tube, which is a catheter is inserted into the trachea (windpipe) in order to establish and maintain an airflow passage to and from the respiratory system through the mouth and nose. This ensures the adequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This process is called intubation. The end of the tube coming out of a patient’s mouth is attached to a mechanical ventilator. I would imagine a serious sore throat for quite some time!
George: Any other comments on this process?
Patient: Since I had no symptoms, I figured it was a false positive test. So I went for another test a week later and the results came back positive. When I spoke with the doctor and said I had no symptoms, he said to wait until two weeks after the first test and get a negative test. Sure enough, after that test I was negative. So I obviously had COVID! Now I have had both vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, so I should be fully protected!
George: What did you have to do when you tested positive but had no symptoms?
Patient: The first thing I did was to contact people with whom we had Shabbat meals, those in shul and others with whom I may have had contact. The Department of Health and CDC1 recommend self-isolation for 10 days from when I was first tested. Which means a separate room from other household members; use a separate bathroom, if possible; avoid contact with other members and pets of the household; don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels and utensils; and wear a mask when around other people.
Avoiding pets was a big surprise. The CDC reports that most pets get infected after close contact with their owner or another household member with COVID. Hence everybody should get vaccinated, and if you do have COVID, you should not have contact with pets. Pet owners should not allow pets to have contact with unvaccinated people outside the household, if possible. Do not put masks on pets; masks could harm your pet. The risk of pets spreading COVID to people is low and there is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets.
George: It sounds like getting the vaccines is not guaranteed protection against COVID.
Patient: The only guarantees are death and taxes! The vaccines do help control the spread of the virus, and definitely reduce the symptoms. There are far less hospitalizations with vaccinated people who get COVID. The CDC reported that an average of 10.1 breakthrough cases for every 100,000 fully vaccinated people—just 0.01% of vaccinated individuals contracted COVID!
George: Our thanks to this patient for sharing their experience. If you are near a person who tests positive or if you start to show signs of COVID, take action immediately! If you come to the emergency room at St. Mary’s General Hospital you will be tested and if the results come back positive, you will receive a dose of monoclonal antibodies, which have been shown to be very effective.
St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred—among the top hospitals in America for health, quality, and patient safety. A center of excellence for maternal-child, the hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care—to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has had more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country, including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about St. Mary’s General Hospital visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.
For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, Community Liaison at [email protected]