A person who has had both shots can still test positive for COVID-19. This is called a “breakthrough infection.” In late April 2021, South Carolina’s health department had identified 155 cases of COVID-19 breakthrough infections. Other states have similar rates, with small amounts of people being hospitalized and even fewer deaths.
Though the chances of getting these infections are rare, health experts say it is essential that these studies be closely followed to help them better understand who could fall victim to re-infection. Breakthrough infections could be caused by mutated strains of the COVID-19 virus, requiring a more improved and potent vaccine. Health experts do not want these cases to be blown out of proportion, possibly discouraging people from getting the vaccines.
From talking with patients and obtaining data from state health departments, ProPublica found that the criteria needed to analyze the general makeup of COVID-19 of the infected person and whether or not their body’s immune system has been compromised is not happening. If there is no data on people being hospitalized from breakthrough infections, they cannot fully investigate why the vaccine did not work.
Dr. Fauci stated that with the fact that COVID-19 numbers are rising, no one should be surprised by re-infections. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Dr. Jill Weatherhead, Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says that as more people get the vaccine for COVID-19, thereby not spreading it over the community, the risk of breakthrough infections will decrease significantly. She also states that data supports a person with the breakthrough infection is at low risk of transmission.
Along with wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing hands, a few other things can be done to slow down or prevent COVID-19 infections.
- Wait two weeks after the last shot before stopping wearing a mask around other people who are vaccinated.
- Carry an extra mask at all times in case.
- Try more outdoor events and restaurants.
Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, MA, the president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, says that not being more able to chronologize the COVID-19 virus needs to be worked on. The more information received, the better, so the right policies and health decisions can be made.
Written by Brenda Robinson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
ProPublica: A Tiny Number of People Will Be Hospitalized Despite Being Vaccinated. We Have to Learn Why; by Caroline Chen
NPR: Coronavirus FAQ: You’re Vaccinated. Cool! Now About Those ‘Breakthrough’ Infections; by Sheila Mulrooney Eldred
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Mecklenburg County’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Sharon Hahn Darlin’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License