COVID-19 breakthrough cases: Explained

April, Archive, COVID Blog, COVID Facts, Month

How big of a risk are COVID-19 breakthrough cases?

People getting a COVID-19 vaccine have an expectation of being protected.

But with reports of breakthrough cases, experts urge everyone to understand what to expect from the vaccines’ protection.

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19, though rare, are patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus two or more weeks after their vaccination — once plenty of time has passed for the body’s immune system to build an antibody defense.

This situation was one public health experts and officials expected — these rare cases occur with every mass vaccination program.

While no vaccine is 100 percent effective, all COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States have been determined to be safe and effective.

For example, the state of Washington had fully vaccinated more than 1.2 million people within its state by the end of March. Of those million-plus people, 102 breakthrough cases had been reported. Of those cases, eight required hospitalization with the remainder reporting either mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Vaccines are designed to protect against infection. However, should an infection occur, vaccines protect against severe illness.

Breakthrough cases are not a reason to avoid getting vaccinated — experts still strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated once they’re eligible.

These cases are also a reminder of why even vaccinated people still need to continue the mitigation strategies of wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.