HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — “I think the biggest message right now is that vaccinations are still working. And so, I have heard people tell me, ‘Dr. Wilson I’ve heard of somebody I know who was vaccinated and they still got COVID.’ Yes, we’re going to see people who are vaccinated get COVID,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director of the Emergency Room at Tampa General Hospital.
While doctors are seeing some fully vaccinated people coming in and testing positive for COVID-19, they say they’re still making up a small percentage of overall patients.
“Nine out of 10 of our ICU patients and a little over eight out of 10, we’ll call it eight out of 10, of our hospital patients, are not vaccinated,” said Wilson.
He says the most important thing to know is that fully vaccinated people who do get COVID-19 are rarely getting severely sick.
“The vaccine has been good for what it’s supposed to do. Which is prevent you from getting to the ventilator, into the hospital, into the ECMO, it prevents you to die. It's very good at that,” said Dr. Claudia Espinosa, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of South Florida.
Experts say there’s a dangerous myth going around right now that the vaccines aren’t working the way they’re supposed to because of breakthrough cases.
“This does not mean the vaccines don’t work. What this means is that when a lot of people are not vaccinated, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have lots of people around you with COVID. And even if you’re vaccinated you may still get COVID,” said Wilson.
With the extremely contagious delta variant and cases skyrocketing among unvaccinated people, experts say it’s no surprise we have breakthrough cases.
“The vaccines are still working and we’re going to know people who got COVID even though they’re vaccinated, yes. But what we’re not going to see is people get very sick when they’re vaccinated and when they get COVID. That’s not going to happen very often,” said Wilson.
“What we know is that you have huge protection against getting COVID so the chances are much lower that you get COVID,” he added.
Doctors say they never expected the COVID-19 vaccines to give us 100% protection against getting the virus, much like any other vaccine.
“Statistically we know that it’s possible just like if you get your flu shot, there’s still a chance you could get the flu. Same thing with the COVID vaccine. Statistically, if you are vaccinated, there’s still a chance you could get COVID. But we all just need to take a deep breath and realize that you do have some antibodies, you do have some protections,” said Dr. Nicolette Mathey, Pharmacist and Owner of Palm Harbor Pharmacy.
For anyone who may now be considering getting vaccinated as they watch cases continue to go up, or for people still on the fence, experts want you to know this:
“These vaccines have been out since September. Millions of people have been vaccinated whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, millions of people have been vaccinated… We’re not seeing people get hospitalized because of the vaccine. We’re not seeing people die from the vaccine. What we’re seeing from the vaccine is protection against COVID. And by far and large the people we’re admitting into the hospital with COVID are not vaccinated people,” said Wilson.