SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local doctors say breakthrough COVID-19 cases are rare but possible. It happens when fully vaccinated people contract the coronavirus.
“Vaccines, while very effective, don’t make you bulletproof,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, the health director of the Coastal Health District.
Of about 70,000 people who are fully vaccinated in the district, he says 21 have contracted COVID-19.
Infected individuals ranged from ages 17 to 84, and only two had reported recent travel. Davis says most had mild cases, but some had to be hospitalized.
He says severe cases mainly appeared in those who had a type of comorbidity.
“Some people who are fully vaccinated apparently may not achieve the degree of protection that we would like,” he told News 3.
At Memorial Health, Dr. Stephen Thacker, the chief associate medical officer, says real-world data shows that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are about 90 percent effective, “meaning that there’s about 10 percent of individuals who may be at risk for infection if they get exposed to COVID-19,” he explained.
Thacker says variants are usually at play in breakthrough cases. Right now in Georgia, Davis says about 46 percent of positive cases involve the U.K. variant.
“The antibodies made by our current vaccine may be less potent at controlling those infections and preventing it, but they appear to health really protect you against severe outcomes,” said Thacker.
It is why, for now, both doctors argue that people should still distance themselves from others and practice good hygiene.
Researchers are already looking into creating booster shots that are similar to an annual flu shot. It may be necessary 12 months after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.