Culture

COVID: How worried should vaccinated people be about breakthrough infections?


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Updated: 22 JUL 21 08:19 ET
By Katia Hetter, CNN

(CNN) — Coronavirus infections are on the rise again in the United States. While more than 99% of deaths are among those unvaccinated, anecdotal reports abound of breakthrough infections, or cases of fully vaccinated people who still test positive for Covid-19 — including several New York Yankee baseball players.

How worried should vaccinated people be of contracting Covid-19? If you’re vaccinated, are you still able to transmit coronavirus to others, such as young children too young to get the vaccine themselves? Does the more transmissible Delta variant change the equation, and what precautions should vaccinated people still be taking?

To give us some guidance during these uncertain times, we turned to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She’s also author of a new book out next week, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”

CNN: Can vaccinated people become infected with Covid-19?

Dr. Leana Wen: Yes, they can. Here’s what the Covid-19 vaccines do. First, and most importantly, they protect you very well against severe disease. That’s key. This is a disease that has taken the lives of over 600,000 Americans and millions of people around the world. If you get the vaccine, you know that you are very unlikely to become severely ill to the point of needing to be hospitalized or to succumb to the disease. According to federal health officials, 99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 are now among the unvaccinated. That is a real testament to the power of the vaccines.

The vaccines also protect against becoming ill from Covid-19, but this protection is not 100%. With the Delta variant, the vaccines may be even less effective against mild disease — though still effective against severe disease.

That means breakthrough infections — or infections in people who are fully vaccinated — can and do happen.

CNN: Does it matter if you’re in a community with a lot of infection? Are you more likely to get a breakthrough infection?

Wen: Yes, and that’s why it matters what’s going on around you even if you are fully vaccinated. Risk is additive. The vaccine protects you well, but if you are constantly exposed to people who are carrying coronavirus, at some point you could have a breakthrough infection.

I’ve used the analogy before of a raincoat. The vaccine is an excellent raincoat. If you’re in the occasional drizzle, you’ll probably be fine. But if you’re going from thunderstorm to thunderstorm, at some point, you could get wet.

This is also why we have to see vaccination as not just an individual choice. Even if you’re vaccinated yourself, it matters if others around you are vaccinated, too.

CNN: Do we know how common breakthrough infections are or whether people who are vaccinated but get infected are able to transmit to others?

Wen: These are really important …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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