breakthrough infections

Conn. Doctor Talks About ‘Breakthrough' COVID Cases

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COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the U.S. are on the rise as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, driven by the least vaccinated parts of the country.

And while no vaccine is perfect, meaning fully vaccinated people occasionally will get infected, those so-called breakthrough cases are rare and usually are mild. They are also expected.

The advice from medical experts is clear: vaccines remain the most effective way to protect oneself from the worst effects of COVID-19 and bring an end to the pandemic. And if you are vaccinated, how worried should you be about breakthrough cases?

NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran spoke with Dr. Anthony Santella, who is also a professor of health administration and policy at the University of New Haven.

"Breakthrough cases of COVID are inevitable. The vaccine has never been marketed as something that provides 100% protection. We also know that the variants, including the very widespread and transmissible Delta variant, is prevalent in the community and there’s nothing special or protective about being at the Olympics. It was inevitable that some of the athletes were going to contract COVID, including those who are fully vaccinated," said Santella.

With 'breakthrough' cases, individuals who are vaccinated against COVID-19 don't necessarily experience some of the traditional symptoms we've heard about.

"It’s always a good practice to kind of keep a good pulse on how you’re feeling. When in doubt, give your medical provider a call. Whether it’s going to see your primary care provider, going to urgent care and getting tested. We’re in this really unpredictable moment right now where vaccination numbers aren’t where they need to be, particularly among young adults, that there are pretty mediocre vaccination rates. We just need to be very conscientious of our health and the health of those around us," said Santella.

Santella said that it's possible people who are vaccinated could've been a 'breakthrough' case, but overlooked it, assuming it was allergies or a cold.

"It's inevitable but we’re missing cases, including breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated. I think we just need to be overcautious right now I’m like let’s let the experts and the clinicians and the medical providers determine whether we should get a test or not. Between seasonal allergies, just run-of-the-mill kind of signs and symptoms of things that may come up or your pass through us, the bottom line really is to air on the side of caution," Santella said.

"We’re just not at the point where we can relax everything and I urge our legislators and policymakers to remember that," he continued.

The Olympics are kicking off as Japan and much of the world are still under COVID restrictions - a stark difference from the U.S. It's particularly noticeable on the streets and on flights, NBCLX Storyteller Chase Cain explains how the COVID-19 vaccine rollout influenced what we're seeing now.
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