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Doctors break down what we know about breakthrough COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 7:33 PM, Sep 24, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — As the country continues to navigate through this pandemic, public health experts remind people that you can still come down with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, also known as a breakthrough infection.

“I woke up feeling a little sinus pressure in my nose here and a very slight headache, and I thought, ‘Well gosh, it’s allergies,” said Marisel St. Clair.

St. Clair says she was vaccinated against COVID-19 in April, but in August, she explained that she started to develop symptoms.

“I tested myself in the morning, not thinking for a second I would be positive, and it just lit up,” said St. Clair. “I was astonished. I could not believe that I was positive for COVID.”

According to the CDC, a vaccine breakthrough infection happens when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19. Dr. Nishant Anand, Baycare’s Chief Medical Officer, helped break down what we know about these cases.

“When you look at total infections right now that are people developing COVID, only 1.5 percent up to about 2 percent in our community is actually breakthrough infections, which means that’s pretty darn good,” said Dr. Anand. “The majority of people who are getting infected right now are unvaccinated.”

The CDC says COVID-19 vaccines are effective and a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control, but says that no vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing illness. The agency also says that there is evidence that vaccination may make the illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.

Dr. Anand explained breakthrough infections will tend to happen more when COVID is more rampant in your community, while also sharing why getting the vaccine is still important.

“Unvaccinated people are four and a half times more likely to get infected, they’re ten times more likely to end up in the hospital, and most importantly something that none of us want, 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19,” said Anand.

Health experts say everyone can increase their chances of avoiding a breakthrough by taking steps like masking up and social distancing. While St. Clair’s case was mild, she shares this message to the community.

“We still need to be vigilant out there in the community when we’re going about our daily life to be extra careful,” said St. Clair.