SARASOTA, Fla. — Congressman Vern Buchanan said Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and that he was previously fully vaccinated against the disease.
His office said Congressman Buchanan was "tested after experiencing very mild, flu-like symptoms and is quarantining at home in accordance with CDC guidelines." Congressman Buchanan said he was fully vaccinated when it was made available to him earlier in 2021.
"This should serve as a reminder that although the vaccines provide a very high degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19," Buchanan said in a statement.
The CDC has stated breakthrough cases are expected, but has also noted there’s some evidence vaccinations may make the illness less severe for people who are vaccinated and get sick.
“By far the majority of patients who are vaccinated even when they get Delta variant or other COVID variants they have mild cold-like symptoms and are able to go home safely or stay at home and isolate,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, the associate medical director of the emergency department at Tampa General Hospital.
Multiple area hospital systems report the vast majority of their COVID positive patients are those not vaccinated. Dr. Wilson estimated its around 90 percent at TGH, where they’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations and the Delta variant.
“Most of the cases of patients who are vaccinated that still get COVID are with the Delta variant,” Dr. Wilson said. “When the vaccines were studied they were studied to ensure that patients were not hospitalized after they got COVID. The patients were not getting very sick or dying from COVID. So far that data has held true even in the face of the Delta variant.”
The CDC tracks hospitalized or fatal breakthrough cases, noting it has received around 5,500 reports, of which some are asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19. Across the country, it reports more than 160 million people fully vaccinated.
“It’s the reality of the situation these are extremely effective vaccines. And when you look at some of the data, for example, in highly vaccinated countries like Israel where a lot of the people in the hospital have been vaccinated, that’s kind of a function of everyone having been vaccinated so that the only cases you see are the ones coming in people that have been vaccinated,” said Michael Teng, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at USF Health.
Teng compared the risks of not getting vaccinated versus getting vaccinated.
“One is like playing the lottery and buying a $1 ticket in the lottery and expecting to get a Powerball jackpot, the other is wearing seatbelts in your car,” he said.
The message from both Teng and Wilson was to get the vaccine.
“There is overwhelming evidence what we’re seeing on the frontline right now that if you get vaccinated you are unlikely to be hospitalized, incredibly unlikely to be hospitalized. You’re unlikely to get Covid. But if you were to get Covid you’re very unlikely to be hospitalized. The vast majority of patients we’re seeing right now are unvaccinated and that’s regardless of the variants,” said Wilson.
Tampa General Hospital reported, as of Monday morning, there were seven COVID-19 hospitalizations among people fully vaccinated, out of around 40.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital reported of 100 patients admitted with COVID during the past month, six are breakthrough infections.
AdventHealth said it continues to see an increase in people hospitalized with the virus and that the majority are not vaccinated.