4 News Now Q&A: Should vaccinated people be worried about breakthrough cases?

Your Questions Answered

Q: Should vaccinated people be worried about breakthrough cases?

COVID cases are on the rise again across the country, and while almost all of them are among unvaccinated people, there are a handful of reports about breakthrough infections. Those are cases of fully vaccinated people who still test positive for COVID-19. Just this week, we saw it happen to several Olympic athletes. 

These cases have many vaccinated people asking if they should be worried about getting COVID, or infecting someone else. 

A: First, let’s take a look at the numbers.

Through the end of April, the CDC reported about 10,000 breakthrough cases among the 100 million people who were fully vaccinated. That’s about one case per 10,000 vaccinated people.

But as long as more variants circulate and the pandemic continues, that number is expected to rise, since no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

“So it’s basic math. At least five out of every 100 cases were going to be breakthrough cases, so seeing them now is really not surprising in the greatest scheme of the pandemic,” UMass Dartmouth professor Erin Bromage said. “It’s just that people have been caught by surprise. ‘I’m fully vaccinated; I’ve changed my behavior; I’m out going to restaurants and bars and clubs. Oh no, I’ve got infected.’ We just knew it was going to happen. It’s just sort of caught the public by surprise.”

Still, most of these breakthrough cases are mild.

People who test positive may have tiny amounts of the virus in their bodies, which is enough to be detected with a COVID test, but not enough to put them in the hospital.

The chances of getting seriously sick after being vaccinated are higher for people with certain health conditions that affect the immune system.

What are you curious about? Submit your questions HERE