You've probably seen the headlines about people who were recently vaccinated but still contracted COVID-19: in my hometown of St. Louis, a woman contracted COVID a month after receiving her second dose of the vaccine, a New York City man tested positive two weeks after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and Michigan health officials reported that nearly 250 people in Michigan who were fully vaccinated still contracted COVID.
Can You Still Get COVID-19 If You're Fully Vaccinated?
Yes, it's still possible to get COVID-19, even if you've been fully vaccinated, in what experts are calling "breakthrough infections." Although it seems alarming, none of the vaccines are 100 percent effective against contracting COVID; Pfizer is 95 percent effective, Moderna is 94% effective, and Johnson & Johnson is about 66 percent effective (although 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death).
Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), said to expect these infections during a White House press briefing on March 26. "You will see breakthrough infections in any vaccination when you're vaccinating literally tens and tens and tens of millions of people," Dr. Fauci said. "So, in some respects, that's not surprising."
According to the CDC, about 5,800 fully vaccinated people have gotten infected with COVID. The CDC told CNN that 396 of those people (about 7 percent) required hospitalization and 74 died, although they haven't identified any patterns in the case demographics or vaccine characteristics.
According to a CNN analysis of CDC data, about 77 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, so fewer than 6,000 reported cases of breakthrough infections is a small percentage of the overall total of vaccinated Americans.
Even with breakthrough cases possible, it's still important to get vaccinated when it's your turn to prevent severe sickness, hospitalization, and death, and to protect those around you. The CDC recommends that people who have been fully vaccinated still take precautions in public places, such as wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, washing your hands, and getting tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms.
POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, the CDC, and local public health departments.