AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — While COVID-19 cases spike once again, the number of fully vaccinated people infected with COVID-19 is slowly increasing. Between January 1 and August 17, 743 “breakthrough” cases were reported in the Augusta area, according to the Department of Public Health. These cases are part of the 18,697 cases in Georgia, which make up less than one percent of the state’s total cases.
406 breakthrough cases have been reported in South Carolina. However, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) only reports breakthrough cases if the person was hospitalized or died.
Several people told NewsChannel 6 they were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, including Steve Cheshire. His symptoms included body aches, fever and coughing.
“I was shocked,” Cheshire says. “I wasn’t expecting it. I tried to be very careful for myself as well as for other people. I’ve taken this virus very seriously since day one”
“It’s been worse than what I was expecting because I thought I had done everything right,” he adds. “I had both vaccines and wear a mask most of the time. I stay away from crowds. I thought I was in pretty good shape but obviously not.”
Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical College of Georgia, says breakthrough cases should be expected.
“The vaccine is very effective but not perfect,” MacArthur explains. “We are going to have some breakthrough cases. Some of those cases are going to require hospitalization. You can get it. It’s just impossible to predict, at this time, who is going to get it among the vaccinated, who is going to be that breakthrough case and which of those breakthrough cases will result in hospitalization.”
Similar to cases among the unvaccinated, a person’s underlying health conditions or comorbidities can affect how severe their breakthrough infection is.
“The biggest comorbid condition, or the one that puts individuals at the highest risk, especially in the age group below 60 years of age throughout Georgia, is obesity. We’re seeing that in children as well as adults. If an individual has any comorbid conditions, they really need to get vaccinated.”
The CDC advises that anyone infected with COVID-19 should isolate, even if they are fully vaccinated.
“Data shows even someone with a mild case [of COVID-19] can transmit the virus to someone else.”
While vaccinations can not provide full protection against COVID-19, MacArthur notes they do protect against severe infection, underscoring the importance of people getting vaccinated.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, please get vaccinated. You’re really playing with fire. The delta variant is out there. The delta variant is much easier spread than the original and alpha variant, and it makes individuals sick. It’s [delta variant] out there and not going away anytime soon.”