Should I be worried about breakthrough COVID-19 cases?
GEHA | September 1, 2021
Dr. Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, FACPM, Medical Director, is a Family Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Preventive Medicine physician. He recently retired from the Navy after 35 years and is a Medical Director at GEHA, focusing on Prevention and Wellness.
A) Breakthrough cases are extremely uncommon, making up less than 1% of all cases. If you are fully vaccinated, it is very unlikely you would contract COVID-19, and if you did, your symptoms would likely be more mild and your outcome more positive. However, vaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19 are still able to transmit the virus, so must be careful to contain further spread in their communities.
A breakthrough case occurs when a person who has been fully vaccinated becomes infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Breakthrough cases are less likely to cause serious illness or disease. The chance of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 are less in this population than in someone who is not vaccinated. At this point, most people contracting COVID-19 in the US are unvaccinated.
It is important to remember that vaccinated individuals, like unvaccinated, can still be contagious if they are infected with COVID-19 and can pass the disease on to others. With that in mind, you should continue practicing other protocols to keep yourself and others safe like masking and social distancing.