COVID-19 Vaccine 'Breakthrough' Infections: What You Need to Know & Why Not to Panic

COVID vaccine

You have likely heard about "breakthrough" COVID-19 infections in people who have been fully vaccinated and it may seem alarming, but health officials say infections are expected as the vaccines are not 100 percent effective and these cases represent a very small percentage of the total number of people who have received the vaccine.

How many "breakthrough" COVID-19 infections have there been?

The CDC tells CNN that 5,800 vaccinated Americans have become infected, some got getting seriously ill, 369 people needed to be hospitalized and 74 individuals have died. 

While it might seem alarming, CNN notes around 77 million people have been fully vaccinated so far, which means these 5,8000 cases equals just .0075 percent of vaccinated people become infected with the virus.

Is there a specific demographic that "breakthrough" infections are occurring?

The CDC tells CNN, "To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics... vaccine breakthrough infections were reported among all people of all ages eligible for vaccination." The health agency goes on to note that "a little over 40% of the infections were in people 60 or more years of age," and 65 percent were female and 29 percent of the breakthrough infections were asymptomatic. 

Should the public be worried about these cases and what can vaccinated people do to reduce their risk?

"Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that all eligible people get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to them. CDC also continues to recommend people who have been fully vaccinated should keep taking precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing their hands often," the health agency stressed.

The risk of a "breakthrough" COVID-19 infection is likely due to how rampant the virus is in your community

Infectious disease physician Dr. Kawsar Talaat echoes the CDC's advice explaining as more people get the vaccine the likelihood of "breakthrough" infections should diminish. "That's the whole point of getting to herd immunity. Because once we get to a point where enough people in the community are vaccinated, then if somebody develops Covid in that community, the people around them are protected and it's much harder for that person to spread the virus to somebody else, and therefore the transmission stops," the infectious disease expert explains.

Find out more about the CDC's guidelines (including what you can do with less risk and what you should not do) for fully vaccinated people, here.

More: When to Get the Vaccine If You've Already Had COVID-19

More: Severe COVID-19 Risk Reduced with 22 Minutes of Daily Exercise & Here Is How to Achieve That Fitness Goal

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