Did you know that no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection? You’ve probably heard stories of people getting COVID-19 after they’d been vaccinated; it is possible.
But this doesn’t make the COVID-19 vaccine any less important to helping end this global pandemic.
Dr. Karen Geheb, Hospitalist at Pullman Regional Hospital, has seen firsthand the effects of COVID-19 in our community, as she oversees inpatients at Pullman Regional Hospital, including COVID-19 cases. A strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine herself, Dr. Geheb sets the record straight on vaccinations, breakthrough cases, and the possibility of contracting the virus even after vaccination.
Is it true that you can still contract COVID-19, even if you’re vaccinated?
Yes; you can be vaccinated against COVID-19 and still get infected. “What we do know is that the vaccine prevents severe illness, decreases need for hospitalization and hopefully, death,” says Dr. Geheb.
Vaccinated individuals are 8x less likely to get infected than unvaccinated individuals; they’re also 25x less likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals.
Also, people with certain conditions and on certain medications may not be able to mount a strong enough immune response and become infected despite receiving the vaccine.
If you can still get COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated, what is the purpose of getting vaccinated?
Getting vaccinated not only protects you from not experiencing as severe of symptoms, should you happen to contract the virus, but it also helps to limit the ability of the virus to mutate in the general population. “The more infections in the community, the more chance for mutation and breakthrough infection,” says Dr. Geheb.
Additionally, getting the COVID-19 vaccine when you’re eligible helps protect groups who are unable to get the vaccine- such as young children and people with certain underlying health conditions. Limiting the virus mutations helps to slow the spread of the virus, reduce cases, and will ultimately help us all return to our ‘normal’ lives quicker.
What does ‘breakthrough case’ mean?
A breakthrough case is an infection occurring in a previously vaccinated person. Dr. Geheb notes that “breakthrough infections occur because there are variants of the original virus circulating, which might spread easier.” The COVID-19 Delta variant is one example of this.
With new variants, what is the best way to stay safe?
Dr. Geheb says that “the best way to protect yourself is to first: get vaccinated, second: wear a mask when you’re in indoor public spaces, and third: practice good hand hygiene.”
Whitman County has multiple vaccination clinics available. If you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine yet, don’t delay. Schedule your vaccine.