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VERIFY: Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause a positive test?

A KREM viewer reached out to ask if getting the COVID-19 vaccine can then lead to positive coronavirus test.

SPOKANE, Wash. — By late last week roughly 700,000 Washington residents had been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a good start, but the numbers are far from where they need to be for the state to fully re-open. 

Still, many Americans are eager to return to some form of normal, especially those who have received their vaccine. 

One KREM 2 viewer named Dave reached out to the Verify Team to ask if getting the vaccine would make him test positive for COVID-19. 

He wrote, “I have had the first Moderna vaccine and am schedule for the second shot February 15. I consider myself fortunate. However, I am planning a trip to Hawaii mid-March and they require a negative COVID test before departure. Is it possible the vaccine alone could produce a positive test?"


To answer this question, the Verify Team reached out to Dr. Anna Wald, a board certified physician. She is also the head of the Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Wald serves as the director of UW’s Virology Research Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

We also looked to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause a positive test?

To the question of whether a COVID-19 vaccine alone could produce a positive test, Wald answered, “No, it is not possible for the vaccine to produce a positive test.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also addresses this question. The CDC writes, “Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the U.S. can cause you to test positive on viral tests which are used to see if you have a current infection.”

“The tests that are used prior to travel really rely on detection of either the antigen or the genomic material of the virus from the nose and the vaccines we’re currently using are injected into the muscle and it’s just a small piece of messenger RNA that’s in the vaccine," Wald explained.

The CDC pointed out that if your body develops an immune response - which is the goal of the vaccine - there is a possibility that you may test positive on antibody tests. The antibody tests can show if you’ve had a previous infection, and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.


But back to KREM 2 viewer Dave’s question; Can the COVID-19 vaccine produce a positive viral test? We can verify that no, it is not possible.

Have something you want to see verified? Contact our VERIFY Team at verify@krem.com, text the word 'VERIFY' to 509-448-2000, or leave Mark Hanrahan a voicemail at 509-838-7334.


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