Around 2 million people in the United States receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine each day. As more people develop immunity, the number of new cases of the virus continues to decline. Still, an exceedingly small number of fully vaccinated individuals have come down with COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports .001% of the first 95 million fully vaccinated Americans have gotten the virus. These rare so-called breakthrough infections are expected with any vaccine, as none is 100% effective.
“This doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working,” said Michelle Aquino, DO, an internist with Baptist Primary Care. “What we’ve seen in these breakthrough cases is that the infection is much milder. That is the key point. There are no deaths from COVID-19 and there appear to be no hospitalizations for severe disease in those who are fully vaccinated and later test positive.”
Take symptoms seriously
If you’ve just received the vaccine, you may get some COVID-like side effects, including fever, chills and muscle aches. But if you develop cough, shortness of breath or loss of taste and/or smell, you need to take precautions. Some breakthrough infections are so mild they may be difficult to notice, but they are still contagious.
“If you’re fully vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to get tested or quarantine,” said Dr. Aquino. “More chances than not, you are not going to get infected. But if you start to develop symptoms, that’s when you need to isolate, call your primary care physician and get tested. You could have an active breakthrough infection and potentially spread it to someone else.”
“Even if you had COVID-19 in the past and built your own immunity, you should still get vaccinated,” said Dr. Aquino. “We don’t know how strong natural immunity is or how long it will last. The best way to ensure you’re protected is to get vaccinated.”
She clarified that despite the decline in new coronavirus infections, hospitals in Northeast Florida and across the country are still seeing serious cases. She said even if you are fully vaccinated, you should still follow safety protocols to limit your risk of contracting COVID.
“It is a very scary disease, and we cannot predict how it will affect each individual,” Dr. Aquino said. “So, the bottom line is, be safe. Getting the vaccine and wearing your mask is never going to be the wrong answer.”