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VERIFY: Why it’s unlikely to spread COVID-19 after vaccination

Both infectious disease doctors we spoke with agree the chances of this happening are low

ST. LOUIS — As more people get vaccinated, restrictions are reducing and reunions are beginning.

But, can a fully vaccinated person still spread the virus? The 5 On Your Side VERIFY team reached out to the experts to get an answer.

Question:

Is it true a fully vaccinated person can spread COVID-19 to an unvaccinated person?

Sources: 

  • Dr. Sarah George, infectious diseases, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Dr. Alex Lacasse, infectious diseases, SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital

Information:

Doctors say if you're vaccinated and then significantly exposed to a person sick with COVID-19, you can inhale the virus and it could live in your nose. This will not get you sick but it could make you a carrier of the virus.

“You leave that room and you go into another room with somebody that has not had the vaccine. And you talk loud and you cough once in a while or you sneeze... then for that particular person you just put them at risk now because what's in your nose has been, you know, aerosolized,” explained Lacasse.

Both infectious disease doctors agree the chances of this happening are low.

Dr. George said early studies out of Israel show the vaccine should partially protect you from having the virus replicate in your nose, therefore making you less likely to spread COVID-19.

“If you're vaccinated, you’re lower risk, probably, for transmitting to other people. How much lower? We just don't know yet,” said George.

Answer:

It's true.

There is a chance a fully vaccinated person could spread COVID-19 to an unvaccinated person.

Both doctors say that's why the CDC guideline states if you are around unvaccinated people wear a mask and keep your distance.

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