Eau Claire doctor explains breakthrough COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Some vaccinated people are testing positive for COVID-19 in what’s called a breakthrough case, though health experts say it is no reason to panic.

The vaccine does not offer immunity from catching the virus according to Dr. Ken Johnson, Chief Medical Officer at Prevea Health, but does offer a substantial level of protection against severe illness.

“Like all treatments, nothing is 100% so if you have had the vaccine there is a low but not zero risk that you would get the virus,” he said. “Like the rest of the nation we have seen some people who have gotten vaccine and developed symptoms and gotten the disease. In general the patients we have seen with that have mild disease.”

Dr. Johnson explains breakthrough cases emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated.

“You should still get the vaccine even though you might get the virus because you are not going to get as ill, you are not likely to die which is a significant risk for people with risk factors and you are not as likely to be in the hospital or on oxygen.”

Data shows the rarity of breakthrough cases.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, vaccinated people account for 1.6% of reported COVID-19 cases in the state since January whereas unvaccinated people account for the other 98.4%. Since January 1, DHS reports 26 COVID-19 related deaths and about 270 hospitalizations among fully vaccinated people compared to more than 1,800 deaths and more than 6,300 hospitalizations among unvaccinated people.

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department is reporting 73 breakthrough cases out of a total of nearly 12,000 cases reported in the county.

“Why get it? The vaccine will protect you from the virus and even if you do get it your chances of getting severely ill are minimized,” Dr. Johnson said.

As the Delta variant runs rampant, the CDC has updated guidance for fully vaccinated people, recommending masks in areas with high disease transmission and for people who have risk factors for getting severely sick from COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19 are now recommended to get tested and quarantine until receiving a negative test result.

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