I’m fully vaccinated but feel sick – should I get tested for COVID-19?
Vaccinated people can still get infected with the coronavirus. So if you have symptoms of COVID-19, getting tested can protect others and help health officials keep an eye on the virus.
25 June 2021 – by Arif R. Sarwari
Imagine last night you developed a little runny nose and a sore throat. When you woke up this morning you started coughing and had a fever. In the past year, your mind would have immediately jumped to COVID-19. But if you are already fully vaccinated, you might wonder: Should I still get tested for COVID-19?
If you did happen to get infected, you could still spread the virus. And that’s why testing is still important.
What is a breakthrough case?
When a person gets infected with the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated, this is called a breakthrough case. Breakthrough cases demonstrate a basic principle of infectious disease – whether or not a person gets infected depends on the balance between two factors: intensity of exposure and immune competence.
Intensity of exposure relates to how close an uninfected person is to a highly infectious individual spewing virus while talking and how long the two people are in contact. Immune competence relates to the body’s inherent protection against COVID-19. Unvaccinated individuals who’ve never been infected with the coronavirus have no protection – this is a completely new virus after all – while fully vaccinated people will be much more protected.
As vaccination rates rise and daily case counts fall in the U.S. and other countries, it is also important to keep a close eye on the coronavirus. COVID-19 testing allows officials to keep track of how much virus is in a community, and positive test results can help people quarantine before unknowingly spreading the virus to others. So, yes, please get tested if you have concerning symptoms, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Arif R. Sarwari does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.