The Covid-19 vaccines protect people from getting infected and severely ill – and significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation and death – but no vaccine is 100 per cent effective. People who have been fully vaccinated are still at risk of testing positive for Covid-19 – and many in Ireland, and around the world, have already.
The Irish Times asked readers to let us know about your experiences of dealing with Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
Here is a selection of your stories.
‘It was a little frightening if I am honest’
“I am a 26-year-old with no underlying health issues. I received my dose of Janssen vaccine on July 17th – therefore deemed fully vaccinated on July 31st.
“I began experiencing a sore throat on Tuesday August 17th and thought it was a slight cold. I was a little fatigued but continued to go to my workplace. Wednesday proved more difficult so I left work after one hour and rested for the day. Wednesday night I thought it strange when I climbed the stairs and felt out of breath. That’s when I thought it might be time to get a Covid test. On Thursday my brother took me to the test centre as I am only learning to drive. He too is vaccinated, and I stayed in the back of the car and we both wore our masks. As Friday rolled in, it was a restless wait, and it was only then the symptoms became clear: short of breath, stuffy nose, sneezing, and weakness. It was late Friday evening when I got my test result. Positive.
“It was a little frightening if I am honest – this virus that had taken over our whole world at the start of 2020 and, almost 18 months later, I now had it, even though I was fully vaccinated. It was a busy night of letting my close contacts know, retracing my footsteps and trying not to panic. I live with my fiance, who also now needed to be tested. He had received his second dose of his vaccine that week, so technically wasn’t fully vaccinated, and he too tested positive two days later. As did my brother who took me to the testing centre. And his girlfriend four days later – both also fully vaccinated.
Saturday – day four – was my worst day. I became weak, my breathing was a struggle and my sense of smell and taste went from normal to nothing at all in the space of three hours. Sunday was a little better, but Monday [August 23rd] was a difficult day.
"Thankfully, since then there has been a big improvement. I wanted to get in touch to not disregard or complain about my vaccine. I do not regret getting it and would urge people to get it. I do, however, feel that those who are fully vaccinated are under false illusions that they are Covid-free and will never get it or never transmit it. I want to also make clear that nobody should let their guard down, and everyone should continue to practice good hand hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing, as it's vital that we continue to do our part in order to, unfortunately, live with this virus." – Donna
‘The sweating, chills, temperature, no smell or taste, the cough, diarrhoea’
“I am Spanish and work as a cleaner in a nursing home in Ireland. I got the Pfizer shots in February. I am a healthy person, I don’t eat meat, smoke or drink. Most of my diet is organic and I used to run every day. During 18 months I did not go anywhere but work and shopping. No meeting with friends and no visitors allowed.
“On the last week of July, my partner was sneezing (he got his vaccine – Pfizer too – in May.) I was off that week. He took the test and came back positive (a girl working with him did not believe in Covid, or vaccines, and she got Covid). Two days later I was with Covid myself. That was a nightmare. Here on our own. We couldn’t even walk the dog. The sweating, the chills, the temperature, no smell or taste, the cough, diarrhoea.
“I live in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and I can say loud and clear that no one offered help to get the basics. A friend from outside the area came with bread, milk, and water. The frustration and feeling of loneliness was awful. I had sleepless nights just thinking about what would happen if I had to go to the hospital. I always thought I was part of the community and getting on well with my co-workers, despite being a foreigner. I was highly disappointed. We were always the first to help but only one person helped us. Now, after a month I am still feeling the chills, tiredness, vertigo, pains and aches, and today the GP put me in a nebuliser, steroids and antibiotics. I can’t go to work because I am not able to bend, and in cleaning there are lots of ups and downs during the day.
Getting €205 a week is not enough. My phone bill is still pending. It has been a month but I am not feeling right. Today I was planting heather and when I finished I looked like I was running the London Marathon. Sweating and breathless." – Sofia
‘I have remained feverish since’
"I received my second dose on July 25th, but tested positive on August 18th. The previous Friday [13th] I had a meal for a friend's birthday (indoor restaurant) and the following day I had drinks in a pub until late with friends. I am fairly confident I got Covid one of those nights. Aside from a fever, fatigue and a head cold I didn't have any other 'typical' Covid symptoms like loss of taste, coughing or shortness of breath. That said, the fever on Thursday/Friday was extremely bad – I couldn't sleep properly, sweats, etc. Although the worst of the fever broke last Friday I have remained feverish since. My last day of isolation will be this Friday [August 27th] and I am confident by then I should be fully recovered. I feel I recovered 80 per cent very quickly, but the remaining 20 per cent will have taken seven to 10 days. After I tested positive six of my close friends (all fully vaccinated) had to take Covid tests and they all tested negative, thankfully." – Séamus
‘As close as a man can get to seeing the unexpected positive pregnancy test’
“I received my vaccines as soon as they became available to me, second one in early June. A little sore arm for a day or two after each injection but no other downside. Once my wife and I were vaccinated we started to do some small things again we had put off – specifically going to personal training classes, and also letting our children meet other kids, outside. But by no means were we reckless.
“Anyhow, a few weeks ago I had hayfever, I get it every summer, and this was same as usual. I had been scheduled to work for a friend for a day, to lend a hand, and as a courtesy to him and his employees I decided to do a home antigen test so that I could say: ‘I know I have the sniffles but it’s hayfever, I get it every summer, I’m fully vaccinated and I’ve had a negative antigen test. Don’t worry, it’s not Covid!’ So I did the test and it was positive. Bit of a shock seeing those two blue lines. I think maybe as close as a man can get to seeing the unexpected positive pregnancy test. Kind of stuck to the spot for a few minutes. I did it again 30 minutes later. Positive again.
“I cancelled the day’s work and went for a PCR test. Positive result the next day. Ten days at home in my room, mild to moderate headcold symptoms for three days and then fine. I got two years of paperwork caught up and left my den after 10 days, rested and happy. In my head I am now ‘superimmune’: two shots of Pfizer and one shot of Delta.
"Some will say the vaccine didn't work; anyone with a scintilla of scientific understanding will know the vaccine did its thing: It turned a potentially very serious infection into a head cold for three days. Take your vaccine and if you do get Covid-19 subsequently – well, the vaccine has saved you from being very sick. It works." – Alan
‘I had really only booked it for peace of mind’
“I got my second dose at the end of June, earlier than some as I have asthma. I got Pfizer and had very little vaccine after-effects. I then got a job working in an English language school, which started on July 19th, the set date for the resumption of in-person language classes. The school offered me a room in a teacher’s apartment in the residence they were using to host the international students. I was living with three other teachers.
“There were more students than I expected and new ones arrived daily to the residence and to host families. Every evening there were large crowds partying in the middle of the accommodation complex, with students mingling freely. Few students wore masks in the lifts/stairs moving through to their rooms and the on-site laundry room became an indoor social hub. I was teaching larger class sizes than I expected, although we all wore masks. The school is in a very old building so there was little ventilation, particularly during the heatwave.
“There was also an hourly crush for the on-site canteen, although students had to eat outside. The staff room was poorly ventilated, and quite small for the amount of people passing through. I booked a test out of precaution, even though I had been fully vaccinated for weeks and I had no symptoms. I booked it on the Friday for the following Saturday, with the positive result coming back on the Sunday. I was shook when I saw it was positive, as I had really only booked it for peace of mind. I hadn’t expected it would/could be positive as I had no symptoms and I was double jabbed.
"I never actually developed any symptoms, and all of my close contacts came back negative (my parents, sister and two friends who I had met during the week). I'm not sure whether any other teachers who I passed in the staff room or any of my students were subsequently tested. Self-isolation was fine, although it meant I had to leave the job before the end of my contract. I'm glad I had both shots of the vaccine as it clearly resulted in the incredibly mild dose I managed to pick up somewhere." – Úna
‘I was surprised I was so sick despite having been vaccinated’
“I was vaccinated in early July with the Johnson & Johnson and I left the pharmacy deliriously happy, I had a huge feeling of relief and a sense that “it was all over”. About a week ago, I started feeling very tired and was up all night with a fever. The next morning, my Mum suggested I take an antigen test that my brother gets given by his workplace. It tested positive. I booked myself in for a PCR test and it came back positive.
"I had a hacking cough, congestion, lost my sense of smell and had a persistent headache and fatigue – I was surprised I was so sick despite having been vaccinated. I'm on day seven of my quarantine, and I am recovering now. My smell came back this morning, my energy levels are higher and the headache is gone away. I have not passed Covid-19 to anybody, which is a huge relief. My family have all tested negative (they're vaccinated but got tested just in case), my flatmates have all tested negative, and my co-workers have all tested negative. – Zahra