Story at a glance:

  • Sneezing could be a sign that someone with the vaccine still has COVID-19.
  • Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations are about 95 percent effective against COVID; Johnson & Johnson is around 66 percent.
  • Sneezing is not normally a symptom of COVID-19, researchers say.

With most Americans vaccinated, the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths are falling across the country. But, in rare cases, some are still testing positive for COVID-19 even though they are vaccinated. So, which symptoms should you monitor to see if you have COVID-19 even with the vaccine? 

According to researchers: sneezing.


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Researchers with the ZOE COVID Symptom Study have tracked COVID-19 symptoms from those with and without the vaccine and found that sneezing more than usual can be a sign of COVID-19, but only for people with the vaccine. 

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study app was created by doctors and scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, King’s College London and Stanford University School of Medicine — along with ZOE, a health science company. 

"Our data shows that people who had been vaccinated and then tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to report sneezing as a symptom compared with those without a jab," researchers wrote. 

But, they added: "it’s important to remember that the link between sneezing and COVID-19 isn’t very strong so you should stay alert to the 20 symptoms of the disease, whether or not you’ve been vaccinated."

Researchers say that sneezing is not typically a symptom of COVID-19 and is more likely a sign of a cold, flu or allergies. 

"If you've been vaccinated and start sneezing a lot without an explanation, you should definitely get a COVID test, especially if you are living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease," researchers wrote. 

The vaccines do not ensure complete protection against COVID-19. 

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19; Johnson & Johnson is around 66 percent. 

Less than 1 in 10,000 people so far have experienced a "breakthrough case" in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say such cases are to be expected.

Experts with the ZOE COVID Symptom Study say people with the vaccine who do contract COVID-19 "experience the same kinds of symptoms as unvaccinated people do, but their illness is milder and shorter" — or they don't have symptoms at all.

Sneezing spreads the virus as it travels into the air.

"Sneezing a lot could be a potential sign that someone vaccinated has COVID-19 and, however mild, should take a test and self-isolate to protect their friends, family and colleagues," researchers note. 


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Published on Jun 28, 2021