The coronavirus vaccines—amazing as they are and you should get one—do not offer 100% protection from COVID-19. And now we know how many people so far have gotten COVID after getting vaccinated, also known as a “breakthrough” infection. “A breakthrough infection or a vaccine failure is when a person contracts an infection despite being vaccinated against it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci explained this week, noting that the majority of vaccines are not “100% efficacious or effective.” Read on to find out how many people this has happened to, and how to avoid getting infected after vaccination—and to ensure your health and the health of others.
Of an estimated 77 million people vaccinated, “So far, about 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported to CDC. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC told CNN via email. Says the network: “Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396—7%—of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization. It’s the first indication from CDC of how effective the vaccine is in real life—and the first indication the vaccines do not protect completely against severe disease and death.” Read on to see who got breakthrough infections the most.
Dr. Fauci explained the reasons why a vaccine might not be totally effective. He first discussed primary vaccine failure, “when the body actually doesn’t mount adequate immune response for a number of reasons,” he explained, listing them as “immune status, health status, age medications you’re on, or something wrong with the vaccine storage delivery composition.” The next reason a vaccine might not work is that eventually immunity fades. “Secondary vaccine failure may occur when immunity fades over time,” he explained. This is essentially why we get the flu shot yearly. Third, he mentioned failure due to a mutation. “Now a vaccine may fail also if a person is exposed to a new or a different strain or a variant,” he revealed.
“Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that all eligible people get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to them. CDC also continues to recommend people who have been fully vaccinated should keep taking precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing their hands often.”
Dr. Fauci pointed out an extremely important fact. “Even if a vaccine fails to protect against infection, it often protects against serious disease,” he said. He used vaccines such as the chicken pox, shingles, and influenza as examples. “If you get vaccinated, no doubt, you’re less likely to get the flu,” he explained. “But even if you do get the flu and get sick, vaccination can reduce the severity and duration of illness and could help get you out of trouble.” So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others.