COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases
Currently, people are talking about breakthrough cases of COVID-19 – and this unfortunately means that a lot of misinformation or inaccurate details are being shared. First off, let’s define what a breakthrough case is. According to Smithsonian Magazine: “A case of COVID-19 that arises in someone who’s been fully immunized – that is, 14 days after their final dose of the vaccine – is known as a breakthrough infection. The term implies that the virus broke through the protective barrier provided by the vaccine.”
It is important to note that for the majority of people who are vaccinated who get infected with a breakthrough case, reporting shows that they may not have any symptoms or if they do, that they are not serious enough for hospitalization – and that death is rare.
In the Smithsonian article (link above), Six Important Things to Know About Breakthrough Infections, the writer says: “It’s not clear yet how common breakthrough infections are. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would no longer track all breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals, only ones that led to hospitalization or death. A July 30 estimate published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that [in the United States] among 25 states that regularly report COVID-19 breakthrough events, infections among fully vaccinated individuals were well below 1 percent.”
The Smithsonian also says that breakthrough cases don’t mean that vaccines aren’t working. In fact, breakthroughs were expected for COVID-19 and have been known to occur for other infectious diseases such as the flu or measles. The article goes on to state that it is expected that the delta variant – which is a much more transmittable variant than others to date – is responsible for the majority of the breakthrough cases. And, because the individuals are vaccinated, breakthrough cases tend to have no symptoms or cause mild to moderate issues rather than severe illness or death. This is a good example of how the vaccine works to protect you. Those who are unvaccinated are at a much higher risk – they are unprotected and that can mean serious illness or even death.
With communities opening back up and fewer people wearing masks, the number of infected people is going to continue to go up throughout Canada, the U.S. and around the world. Data is showing that a small percentage of those who get the virus will be people who have been fully vaccinated. However, some people who are fully vaccinated, such as those with compromised immune systems, may be more at risk for a breakthrough infection due to the fact that the vaccines are not as effective because of their pre-existing health issues.
The delta variant is more easily transmitted and it appears to transmit a much larger viral load. One of the challenges that is emerging is that it appears that people who do get the virus – including those who have been vaccinated and experience a breakthrough case – may spread it, even if they are asymptomatic. People might not even know that they have COVID-19 and this means that they could spread it to someone who is more at risk – which includes young children, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
There are many great resources that provide clear, factual information about COVID-19 and breakthrough cases. We have curated several to make it convenient for you to learn more. These articles – along with the link above from the Smithsonian – are worth a read. They can help you to understand breakthrough cases and can give you accurate information to share with the people in your lives who want to learn more about how they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Getting fully vaccinated is crucial. So is wearing a mask in crowded areas – especially indoors. Social distancing is another way to protect yourself (and by extension, the people you care about). This continues to be true for those who are vaccinated. We want to keep ourselves and those we care about and come in contact with as safe as possible.
The vaccines have made life so much better, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. We are seeing an increase in cases – almost all of which appear to be from the delta variant. With cooler weather coming and more people moving indoors, it’s important to understand that we have to continue to be vigilant.
Please be safe, stay healthy, and encourage the people you care about to get vaccinated.