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4 Oregonians contract COVID-19 after full vaccination; experts say 'breakthrough' cases expected

Virus Outbreak Britain Vaccine
Diana Swiga
Posted at 1:32 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 16:38:38-05

Oregon has become one of the first states to report people contracting COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated.

The announcement is not a surprise to health officials, who remind people there is no vaccine that is 100% effective at preventing infections, and the COVID-19 vaccine can help lessen the severity of symptoms to those who contract it.

“Vaccines keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you don’t get sick,” State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said at a news conference Friday.

Oregon officials say four people who have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have tested positive, and that they all have either mild symptoms or no symptoms.

“I anticipate that more states will be reporting more numbers of breakthrough cases as they have more people who are fully vaccinated,” Sidelinger said.

So-called “breakthrough” cases occur 14 days after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is given. Similar cases were reported during the vaccine trials for both Pfizer and Moderna ahead of their emergency use authorization. The CDC is currently tracking “breakthrough” cases, and Oregon officials shared their information with the agency.

The Oregon Health Authority is now in the process of doing genomic sequencing on samples from the four patients to determine if they contracted a COVID-19 variant, and if so, which one.

Some of the vaccines have shown a lower efficacy against certain variants of COVID-19, including the South Africa variant.

Sidelinger said these four cases are a good reminder that even if someone is vaccinated, wearing a mask and remaining socially distant is still recommended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It is not fully understood if those fully vaccinated can be asymptomatic spreaders of the coronavirus.