What to Know About COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases

Woman covered in a blanket on the couch, blowing her nose

Medically Reviewed by Baptist Health

The term “breakthrough cases” is being used more frequently lately. It refers to a situation in which someone who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 nevertheless contracts the illness. That scenario understandably is concerning to many people. 

But should people be worried about this phenomenon? This article answers that question and provides other important information about breakthrough cases.

Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases Aren’t Unexpected

The CDC and other health organizations note that breakthrough cases don’t mean that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t working. While the vaccines are highly effective, especially at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death, they are not 100% effective.  

Consequently, some people who are fully vaccinated and then exposed to the virus will contract COVID-19. Typically, their illness will produce few, if any symptoms and those that occur will be mild. 

Save Time and Start Your COVID-19 Test Online

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to COVID-19, Baptist Health is able to see you virtually, diagnose and order a COVID-19 test to the urgent care closest to you. Learn more and get started now.

The Number of Serious Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases Is Extremely Low

It can be hard to know from watching the news or skimming an article online exactly how often breakthrough cases occur. However, health experts say that the numbers are low and that the number of people who become seriously ill from a breakthrough case is extremely low. So, while taking precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 is important, it’s still highly unlikely that you or they will develop a breakthrough case. 

The Delta Variant Is Common in Breakthrough Cases

It’s important to note that any strain of the COVID-19 virus can cause a breakthrough case. However, testing is showing that the Delta variants (Delta and Delta Plus) currently are responsible for most instances of breakthrough infection. 

The Delta variants are much more contagious than previous strains of the COVID-19 virus. One study conducted in China found that the viral load (meaning the quantity of a virus in a given amount of fluid) is 1,000 times greater than that found in the initial strains. And the higher the viral load, the more likely it is that some with the virus will pass it to others. 

Fortunately, at this point, there’s no evidence that the Delta variants cause more serious illness than other variants. 

Don’t take a chance with your health.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a vaccination appointment at a location near you. 

Getting Fully Vaccinated Remains Very Important

Despite the concern about breakthrough COVID-19, the vaccines are still providing excellent protection overall. For every person that’s exposed to COVID-19 and develops a breakthrough case, thousands of others don’t. 

For that reason, everyone who can be vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible. It’s also important for parents to stay informed about vaccinations for children. The minimum age for vaccination continues to drop as more data is reviewed, so a child who wasn’t previously eligible to get the vaccine may be eligible now. 

In addition, getting vaccinated is about more than protecting yourself or your child. Vaccination is a process that has brought an end to many contagious diseases in the past, and it can do the same with COVID-19. 

Vaccination and Other Disease-Fighting Tactics Work

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can further minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19 by using all the disease-fighting tactics we learned when the pandemic started: wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, avoid crowded places, wear a mask if appropriate, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. 

These practices work. Plus, they can make you feel more in control of your health and wellness.  Make an appointment today to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and protect yourself from a serious illness. 

Next Steps and Useful Resources: 

Schedule a Vaccine Appointment
Start Your COVID-19 Test Online
Delta Variant FAQ

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