Breakthrough COVID-19 cases example of importance of post-vaccine guidelines

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FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 is prepared at a vaccination center of the 3rd district, in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

INDIANAPOLIS– Thousands of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 have become infected with the virus.

66 million Americans are now fully vaccinated but it’s not bringing a sigh of relief just yet.

“A breakthrough infection or vaccine failure is when a person contracts an infection despite being vaccinated against it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified approximately 5,800 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 across the country. A small percentage of the more than 75 million people who’ve been fully vaccinated.

“We see this with all vaccine in clinical trials,” Dr. Fauci said. “And in the real world, no vaccine is one hundred percent efficacious or effective, which means that you will always see breakthrough infections regardless of the efficacy of your vaccine.”

“When you give a vaccine, you need that person’s immune system to respond,” said Melissa McMasters, Infectious Disease Administrator, Marion County Health Department.

She says breakthrough cases are rare and occur when a person’s immune system doesn’t respond properly.

“It is still possible you could get COVID after the vaccine but it’s not as significant had you had no immunity on board,” McMasters said.

Data shows the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the virus.

“This vaccine is extremely effective, like in the 90 percentile when you get the two doses,” McMasters said.

Health experts say breakthrough cases are one example why following guidelines is important even after reaching full vaccine immunity.

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