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Three things you need to know about breakthrough infections

By Dr. Von Nguyen | September 1, 2021 | Healthy Lifestyle, Coronavirus

Man sick at home under a blanket, looking at a thermometer

You may have heard in the news recently about “breakthrough cases,” or vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19.

If you’re vaccinated, you might be worrying about whether your vaccine will hold up against the more contagious delta variant.

If you’re not vaccinated, you might be wondering why you should get vaccinated if you could get infected with COVID anyway.

Here are three important things to know about breakthrough cases.

1. The COVID-19 vaccines provide solid protection against the delta variant.

The delta variant of COVID-19 is more than two times as contagious as previous strains. For many people, this raises concerns that the vaccines won’t protect as well against delta as they did the original strain.

While you can get COVID-19 even if you’re vaccinated, the vaccines remain highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death. Information about breakthrough cases is still limited, but the data so far are encouraging.

Unvaccinated people are four and a half times more likely to get infected with COVID than vaccinated people. Furthermore, the unvaccinated are 15.4 times more likely to die from COVID. Vaccines save lives.

2. The term “breakthrough infections” is misleading.

The COVID-19 vaccines are designed to prevent severe illness and death—and they do a great job of it. By providing your body with instructions on how to fight the virus, these vaccines prepare your immune system to rally at the first sight of COVID-19.

What a vaccine can’t do is prevent germs from getting into your nose and mouth. That’s why the term “breakthrough infection” is a bit of a misnomer. Vaccines don’t stop a virus from entering your body. They simply prepare you to fight back when it does.

Most vaccinated people will have a much lower risk of infection, hospitalization and death when compared to unvaccinated people.

3. Even if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t let your guard down.

We all have a responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus. Although unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern, vaccinated people can still spread COVID-19. That means it’s important to continue wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and taking other steps to protect yourself and your community.

Keep practicing the 3Ws: wash your hands, wait six feet apart, and wear a mask.

If you’re fully vaccinated but have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends getting tested 3-5 days after exposure and taking extra precautions not to spread the virus for 14 days or until you test negative.

This is our chance to end the pandemic. Our individual actions matter. Keep your guard up, and do what you can to help keep those around you safe.