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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 and you should get one—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. "A breakthrough infection or a vaccine failure is when a person contracts an infection despite being vaccinated against it," Dr. Anthony Fauci explained this week, noting that the majority of vaccines are not "100% efficacious or effective." Read on to find out how many people this has happened to, and how to avoid getting infected after vaccination—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


So Far, About 5,800 People Have Gotten COVID After Getting Their Vaccines, Says CDC

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

Of an estimated 77 million people vaccinated, "So far, about 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported to CDC. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics," the CDC told CNN via email. Says the network: "Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396—7%—of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization. It's the first indication from CDC of how effective the vaccine is in real life—and the first indication the vaccines do not protect completely against severe disease and death." Read on to see who got breakthrough infections the most.


40% of the Breakthrough Cases Were in People 60 Years and Older, Says CDC

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"Vaccine breakthrough infections were reported among all people of all ages eligible for vaccination. However, a little over 40% of the infections were in people 60 or more years of age," the CDC told CNN.


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.


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

"Vaccine breakthrough infections make up a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated. 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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Dr. Fauci Agrees—Get Vaccinated ASAP

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