What does it mean to have a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta defines a vaccine breakthrough infection as the detection of novel coronavirus or its antigen in a respiratory specimen 14 days or more after having completed all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
As of April 30, 2021, about 101 million people in the United States had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the CDC reported, and 10,262 vaccine breakthrough infections had been reported from 46 U.S. states and territories as of April 30.
“Even though FDA-authorized vaccines are highly effective, breakthrough cases are expected, especially before population immunity reaches sufficient levels to further decrease transmission,” the agency wrote.
Because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be 90-95% effective in preventing the virus, infection is still possible and the public should still take precautions, the CDC warned.
“Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated,” the agency wrote in an email to CNN. “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.”
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