KEY POINTS

  • Three people in Hawaii tested positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated
  • Health officials said it's not surprising that some have tested positive considering the efficacy rates of the vaccines
  • They assured that the vaccine "works in a huge percentage of people"

Three fully vaccinated people in Hawaii have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Health confirmed.

Health officials said the three individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19 after receiving both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, news station KITV reported. None of the three became severely ill or passed the virus to other people, the health department stated.

Doctors told KITV that these "breakthrough cases" are not a major cause for concern. The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use have efficacy rates that fall between 66% to 95%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the vaccines significantly lower the risk of hospitalization and severe symptoms, they cannot completely prevent infection.

One of the three cases involved a healthcare worker in Oahu who received their doses back in January. They visited multiple cities in the U.S. a month after getting vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to Oahu.

The healthcare worker's case is an example of why basic restrictions are still necessary even after getting fully vaccinated as traveling increases the risk of infection, according to one doctor.

"Absolutely you need to be careful during those times when you’re in the airport, on the airplane, with other people in larger groups," said Dr. Melinda Ashton, Hawaii Pacific Health's chief quality officer.

Nevertheless, the vaccine has been proven to offer protection against severe illness. Dr. Julius Pham noted that only five people across Hawaii are currently occupying an ICU bed due to the coronavirus -- a great improvement compared to how things were last September when the number was as high as 65.

"We haven't seen those types of numbers since early in the pandemic," said Pham, chair of the COVID-19 committee at Queen's Medical Center. "We're still having about 50-60 cases per day in the state but our hospitalization numbers are down more than the rate of infection in the state."

Officials also said in a statement that though the vaccines have been doing their job in offering protection, they still have their limits, news outlet KHON2 reported.

“Remember, 95% of people get immunity from the vaccines and 5% don’t from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “So one out of 20 people could still not have immunity and therefore catch COVID.” 

“Some people are going to dive on to this and say, oh, then the vaccine doesn’t work. No, it does work. It works in a huge percentage of people, but not everyone and that’s an important message,” Green added.

Despite the rollout of vaccines in many parts of the world, the fight against Covid-19 is far from over Despite the rollout of vaccines in many parts of the world, the fight against Covid-19 is far from over Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN