Proactive community testing remains as more people get vaccinated

Samantha Greyson

Participants in UT’s Proactive Community Testing program have decreased as vaccination efforts have increased, with only 1,800 COVID-19 tests administered to students last week. However, PCT program director Jessica Klima said students should continue getting tested despite vaccination. 

There was an average of 3,966 student PCT tests a week for the month of February, 3,235 for March and 2,181 for April, according to the UT COVID-19 Dashboard. The average calculated for the month of February excludes the week of Winter Storm Uri, when PCT testing was halted. UT Health Austin distributed approximately 8,800 vaccine doses last week and has fully vaccinated over 47,000 individuals, according to the dashboard.  

A small amount of people who are vaccinated can still contract COVID-19, as well as spread it to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“By continuing testing, even beyond vaccination, it helps our campus community monitor and respond to any breakthrough COVID-19 cases,” Klima said. “A breakthrough case is where a person that is fully vaccinated still somehow contracts the virus. We really want to just keep tabs on what’s happening with the level of disease in the campus community.”

The University is continuing to test positive COVID-19 samples acquired through Proactive Community Testing to detect new possible variants, Klima said.

Receiving the vaccine will not cause a positive test result on COVID-19 viral tests such as PCT, since they test for active agents of the virus, according to the CDC. 

Biology freshman Jayden Lee was fully vaccinated earlier this week, but said he still plans on getting tested at least once a month.

“Since I just got vaccinated recently, I read from the CDC that it takes two weeks to fully build antibodies for it, so I could still get COVID within that time,” Lee said. 

Lee said he gets tested to protect himself and others around him, but also because the vaccine doesn’t ensure immunity against various strains of COVID-19. 

Biochemistry freshman Anastasia Brown was fully vaccinated Thursday, but said she got two tests between her first and second dose of the vaccine.

“The first dose does not ensure that I don’t have COVID,” Brown said. “Just like before the vaccine I wanted to ensure that people around me were safe when I was interacting with them, it would give me peace of mind.”

Klima said while testing numbers have decreased, COVID-19 testing will continue to be offered at no cost to students through the upcoming summer and fall semesters.

“(Numbers) have gone down, but we are still testing over 2,000 people a week,” Klima said. “We have had 100 people that are brand new to PCT, that have never tested with PCT before, that have already tested this week alone. We’re still attracting new people to PCT.”