CDC tracking breakthrough COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated people

BOSTON — The CDC is now tracking breakthrough COVID-19 cases in patients who have been fully vaccinated.

Starting this week, the CDC says it will focus on investigating those cases that are more severe, where fully vaccinated patients end up in the hospital.

“This is not uncommon whenever the FDA approves a vaccine, there will continue to be studies that look at how well it performs in real world conditions,” said Dr. Michael Misialek, pathologist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. “The COVID-19 vaccine is effective, breakthrough cases though will be expected to occur in a very, very small percent of vaccinated patients.”

On Friday, Massachusetts health officials released breakthrough case numbers, showing nearly 1,800 COVID cases among fully vaccinated people.

That’s still less than 0.1% of the 2.4 million people who are vaccinated in the state.

Nationwide the CDC is reporting about 9 percent of the breakthrough cases have been hospitalized, but health officials don’t believe all of those cases are directly related to COVID-19.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective and we do expect to see some cases of disease after vaccination, we expect those to be relatively minor or even asymptomatic,” said Dr. Misialek.

Doctors are now studying whether there are any trends or underlying conditions among those who still develop a severe case of COVID-19 even after getting the shot, but health officials say overall, the vaccine is safe and still the best way to end this pandemic.

“I do hope patients who are reluctant will consider it again and heed the call to become vaccinated to protect themselves and the community,” said Dr. Misialek.

Even though we’re seeing restrictions ease up like not having to wear a mask outside, doctors say it’s still important to social distance and wear a mask while indoors and close to other people even after getting the vaccine, since it’s still possible to spread the virus until we reach herd immunity.

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