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Dr. Fauci Says You Could Get COVID After Your Vaccine—Here's How

There are a few reasons why you could still get COVID after you are vaccinated.

Just because you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, doesn't mean you are completely protected against the highly transmissible and deadly virus. During the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed the concept of "breakthrough infections" at great length, revealing how you could become infected with COVID after being vaccinated. Read on to hear what he had to say—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


What Is a "Breakthrough Infection"?

Woman coughing hardly at home

Fauci started by defining the concept. "A breakthrough infection or a vaccine failure is when a person contracts an infection despite being vaccinated against it," he explained, noting that the majority of vaccines are not "100% efficacious or effective, which means that you will always see breakthrough infections regardless of the efficacy of your vaccine." 


Primary Vaccine Failure: Body Doesn't Mount Immune Response

man with prescription medications

Dr. Fauci then continued to explain 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."


Secondary Vaccine Failure: Immunity Fades

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

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. 


A Vaccine May Fail Due to a New Strain 

Doctor studying virus bacteria in the lab

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, offering the example of influenza, "the most common of this, which mutates rapidly and drifts genetically generally from season to season." He also offered data in regard to the COVID vaccines and effectiveness in protecting against the variants, pointing out that even when efficacy was down to 64 percent as with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the, "there were essentially no deaths or hospitalizations in the individuals who have been vaccinated," he pointed out. 


But Even If a Vaccine Fails to Prevent Against Infection, It Will Likely Protect Against a Serious One

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

Dr. Fauci then 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."

RELATED: This COVID Vaccine Has the Most Side Effects, Study Says


Keep Protecting Yourself and Others

Female Wearing Face Mask and Social Distancing

Whether you are vaccinated or not, keep following Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah