In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson, District 3) said she tested positive for the virus COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.
“I have taken COVID-19 very seriously and have worn my mask, washed my hands, socially distanced. Yet despite those measures and being vaccinated I have come down with the COVID,” she said. “I encourage all to take this seriously and continue practicing COVID protocols. Be courteous to your colleagues and loved ones who are more susceptible. The pandemic has not come to an end. Be safe, take care, do not let your guard down even after you have been vaccinated.”
Hernandez tweeted that she tested positive 11 weeks after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. She said she had a severe migraine, fever, cannot taste or smell and “[felt] terrible right now.”
She emphasized that as a health professional she is encouraging people to still get vaccinated.
“If you have not already done so, please do so as soon as possible. This is just to let you know that just because you got vaccinated does not mean you are immune to contracting COVID. I happen to be one of the few who still got it. Hopefully, my symptoms don’t worsen; however, I am very fortunate to have been vaccinated.”
Hernandez said she will be in quarantine until Wednesday.
Her case is not the first in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Health Services has 947 similar cases across the 15 counties with no deaths, said ADHS Communications Director Steve Elliott.
70% of patients were symptomatic and 16% were hospitalized, said Elliott. They were able to get information for about half of the cases. He also noted that the increase from previous reports “has more to do with classification of cases since vaccinations began than a spike in recent weeks.”
As of Thursday, the state has fully vaccinated 2,241,092 people, "breakthrough" cases account for 0.04% of fully vaccinated individuals.
Breakthrough cases are expected, as “no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness,” according to the CDC
As of April 20, the CDC reported 7,157 breakthrough infections in the U.S. with more than 87 million people fully vaccinated nationwide. Of those reported cases, 64 % were female and almost half were people 60 or older. Further, only about 7% of the breakthrough infections resulted in hospitalization and 1% led to death. On Wednesday, the CDC presented data that showed fully vaccinated adults, age 65 and older are 94% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
“COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control,” said Elliott. “All of the available COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. As a result, symptomatic vaccine breakthrough cases will tend to be less severe than infections in people who are not vaccinated. Asymptomatic infections among vaccinated people also will occur.”