Hamilton

Can you die from COVID-19 after 2 vaccine doses? Experts say yes but it's 'very, very rare'

Hamilton's medical officer of health says someone in Hamilton died after getting COVID-19, even with two doses of vaccine.

Of the 9,413,440 Ontarians vaccinated between Dec. 14 and June 12, just 32 people died

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson is Hamilton's medical officer of health. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton's medical officer of health says someone in Hamilton died after getting COVID-19, even with two doses of vaccine.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said the incident was "very unfortunate" and also said dying after full vaccination is "very, very rare."

Hamilton public health didn't share any details about the case, citing privacy concerns.

"Often times it's related to some other illness that an individual already has," Richardson told reporters on Monday.

It's unclear how old the victim was, how and when they got infected, and what caused their death.

Public Health Ontario reports, of the 9,413,440 people who received one dose between Dec. 14 and June 12, just 32 people died after getting vaccinated. Most of those 32 victims were 80 or older.

The same report shows, of the 355,472 people who got a shot in Hamilton, only 0.18 per cent tested positive after one vaccine dose and only 0.02 per cent tested positive after a second dose.

Richardson said while no vaccine is perfect, they are very effective against the virus and people should still get immunized. She said people should watch for any symptoms after vaccination and seek care in a timely manner if needed.

The city's case count has fallen in recent weeks with just 12 new infections reported on Monday. The weekly average is at 14 cases, one of the lowest numbers in months. Just 31 people with the virus are in the hospital.

Dr. Dominik Mertz, Hamilton Health Sciences medical director of infection prevention control, said the context matters when discussing isolated incidents like this death.

He said the tiny number of people infected after getting vaccinated avoided more serious effects thanks to the vaccines.

Dr. Zain Chagla, the co-medical director of infection control and an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, said people may not realize it but the vaccines have saved thousands of people.

"There's a paradox to public health that if what you do actually works, people don't see the effects of it because you prevented something and no one ever sees the effects of prevention," he said.

"You take your car to the shop for maintenance, you're never going to see your car break down at the side of the road, but you're always going to remember the pain of that maintenance."

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