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Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated

“Breakthrough” cases are very uncommon, but possible.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus vaccines—amazing as they are—do not offer 100% protection from COVID-19. And now we know how many people so far have gotten COVID after getting vaccinated, also known as a "breakthrough" infection—especially as Omicron is better able to evade immunity. "A breakthrough infection or a vaccine failure is when a person contracts an infection despite being vaccinated against it," Dr. Anthony Fauci explained, noting that the majority of vaccines, while doing a good job at protecting you from severe illness, are not "100% efficacious or effective." Read on to find out how to spot a breakthrough infection—and how to avoid getting infected after vaccination—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Omicron is Causing Many "Breakthrough" Infections

Ill woman lying in bed looking at thermometer suffering from seasonal flu and infectious disease

Omicron is cause more breakthrough cases than ever. The frequency of these breakthrough infections isn't cause for concern, say  and  "The messaging around these infections wrongly focuses on their numbers and uses a misunderstood term — 'breakthrough' infections — that can make the cases sound more unexpected and dangerous than they are," they wrote for NBC News. "Receiving a vaccination doesn't mean that recipients don't need to worry about getting any symptoms of a given illness. What vaccinations offer is enhanced safety from severe illness and death."

They added: "What is remarkable about the Covid vaccinations is their ability to prevent a great number of serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in the face of breakthrough infections, and to effectively do that for different strains." In fact, the majority of people who are hospitalized and dying are unvaccinated.

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Right Now, We are Facing a "Tsunami" of Infections, Breakthrough and Otherwise

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

With cases setting countrywide record highs every day, "When you're having such a… tsunami of infections, then we are seeing people who are vaccinated and boosted who are getting breakthrough infections," said Dr. Fauci on CNN's New Day yesterday. That's why he cautions against partying with a ton of other people right now; reconsider where you go. "When you're in a situation where you have so many infections going out, the thing that you want to say is that if you want to do things" like eating out, "better do them in a setting where you know the people around you are vaccinated and boosted."

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Dr. Fauci Explains How You Could Get COVID Even After Your Vaccine

woman with medicine jars at home

Dr. Fauci explained the reasons why a vaccine might not be totally effective. He first discussed primary vaccine failure, "when the body actually doesn't mount adequate immune response for a number of reasons," he explained, listing them as "immune status, health status, age medications you're on, or something wrong with the vaccine storage delivery composition." The next reason a vaccine might not work is that eventually immunity fades. "Secondary vaccine failure may occur when immunity fades over time," he explained. This is essentially why we get the flu shot yearly. Third, he mentioned failure due to a mutation. "Now a vaccine may fail also if a person is exposed to a new or a different strain or a variant," he revealed. This is why Omicron is so prevelant. 

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The CDC Says Here's How to Protect Yourself Best

Two friends with protective masks greet with waving to each other.Alternative greeting during quarantine to avoid physical contact

Says the CDC: "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." 

"The safest thing to do is to be in a home setting, friends, relatives, who, you know, are vaccinated and boosted. If you want to go the extra step of safety, then get a quick antigen test, which will give you an extra degree of safety. What you wanna avoid are places where you have 20, 30, 40, 50 people, many of whom you have no idea of whether or not they're vaccinated or boosted. That's more risky than the home settings,' says Dr. Fauci.

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Final Thoughts From Dr. Fauci

Doctor in personal protective suit or PPE inject vaccine shot to stimulating immunity of woman patient at risk of coronavirus infection.

Dr. Fauci pointed out an extremely important fact. "Even if a vaccine fails to protect against infection, it often protects against serious disease," he said. He used vaccines such as the chicken pox, shingles, and influenza as examples. "If you get vaccinated, no doubt, you're less likely to get the flu," he explained. "But even if you do get the flu and get sick, vaccination can reduce the severity and duration of illness and could help get you out of trouble." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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