Alabama continues to track breakthrough COVID infections

Health leaders studying 'breakthrough' COVID cases

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Health leaders are continuing to study breakthrough coronavirus cases. These are incidences where fully vaccinated people still catch COVID.

Out of about a million people who have been fully vaccinated in Alabama, a few hundred have still tested positive for the virus.

An infectious disease doctor at Jefferson County Department of Health is not surprised vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna had some breakthrough cases.

“Both of them are around 95% effective. What does that mean? It means 95% of people got great protection against COVID-19 but that means 5% didn’t get the best protection,” Dr. Wesley Willeford with the Jefferson County Department of Health said.

Nationally, doctors estimate only about one percent of people who are vaccinated get COVID. Even with the spread of the variant UK virus the impact is not severe.

“To the best of our knowledge none of the break through cases have caused serious illness. We believe the vaccine protects you from being seriously ill or hospitalized or death,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama Department of Public Health said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health investigates all reports of breakthrough cases.

While these cases are mostly mild, there are concerns that people with underlying health conditions such as cancer, transplant patients or arthritis could be hit harder with their immune system suppressed. People over 60 could be at risk.

“Weakened immune systems for one reason or another would not be able to build the same amount of protection as they would otherwise. There are lot of reasons you could have the breakthrough infections,” Willeford said.

The vaccines are very effective. Harris and other doctors encourage you to get vaccinated. Report any COVID-19 symptoms. Get tested and continue to wear a mask especially around large crowds and unvaccinated people.

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