Post-Vaccination COVID-19 Cases Aren't Reasons to Blow Off Vaccine, Doc Says

Talk show host Bill Maher and multiple players on the New York Yankees, all of whom were fully vaccinated, recently made the news after testing positive for COVID-19. Now medical experts are warning people not to take those cases as a sign of the vaccines' effectiveness

Gleyber Torres
Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

What do talk show host Bill Mahar and some members of the New York Yankees have in common? They all contracted COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated.

Some see these cases as a reason not to bother with the available vaccines, but medical professionals say the phenomenon of fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19 is a good reminder to all of us how the vaccines are meant to work. 

So far, eight fully-vaccinated players and staff on the Yankees, including shortstop Gleyber Torres, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

San Diego otorhinolaryngologist Dr. Paul Schalch-Lepe says

“Having been vaccinated doesn't necessarily mean you cannot contract infection, what's important of course is you will not develop the severe disease and infection that will land you in the hospital,” Dr. Schalch-Lepe said.

Popular talk show host and comedian Bill Maher also tested positive after being vaccinated.

In a tweet, Maher wrote "Thanks to all wishing me to get well-hard to do since I feel perfectly fine but I appreciate it."

Maher said he had no symptoms. Seven of the eight cases on the Yankees team were also asymptomatic.

“They were exposed to the infection. If they didn't get sick it means the vaccine worked and it did what it was supposed to do,” Schalch-Lepe explained.

In each of these cases COVID-19 showed up during routine testing. Schalch-Lepe said testing is still a very effective tool to help stop the spread of the virus. He suggests fully vaccinated people should still get tested "whenever there are concerns about exposing others to the virus or being exposed yourself, or going to use it for decision making, whether visiting a certain person or travel."

Schalch-Lepe said Maher and the Yankees players that tested positive must have contracted the virus from someone who was not yet vaccinated. 

An important component of vaccination, is that it decreases the rate of transmission.

“There is not enough time for the virus to replicate, to become more numerous, and of course for you to start shedding those viral particles,” he said.

The vaccines are meant to reduce the severity of the disease, reduce hospitalizations and deaths, Schalch-Lepe said.  

“We still need to remember caution is still very important and being reasonable. We are still not out of the woods yet,” he said.

If someone who is fully vaccinated is concerned about contracting COVID-19, Schalch-Lepe said there is no harm in wearing a mask, practicing distancing or avoiding crowds. 

NBC 7 asked if it were possible tests came back positive because they detected traces of the disease in the vaccines, and Schalch-Lepe it’s very unlikely.

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