Breakthrough Covid-19 Cases


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Charmaine and the staff at Senior Living Consultants

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What is a Breakthrough Infection?

By now you may have heard about so-called vaccine ‘breakthrough’ cases of Covid-19. A breakthrough case is an infection of SARS-CoV-2 (from a positive test for coronavirus) more than 14 days after a person has completed all doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated may still get Covid-19 if exposed to the virus. However, most people with breakthrough infections experience no symptoms or more mild to moderate symptoms, if they do become sick. In fact, recent data from the CDC shows 97% of people currently hospitalized for coronavirus did not receive a vaccine and 99.5% of deaths related to COVID-19 are among the unvaccinated.

That said, last week health officials in Los Angeles County (the largest county in the U.S. by population) shared data that 20% of new coronavirus cases in June were among people who were received both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot J&J vaccine. While no vaccine is 100% effective, the current vaccines work extremely well against becoming severely ill or landing in the hospital from COVID-19, according to the CDC. Following is the overall efficacy of each vaccine:

  • Pfizer-Bio-N-Tech – 95%
  • Moderna – 94.1%
  • J&J/Janssen – 72%


The CDC notes the majority of current infections (83%) are from the Delta variant which spreads more easily–about two to three times faster–than the original strain of the virus.  Fortunately, the current vaccines are very effective against the Delta variant in preventing severe illness and death according to health officials.

Seniors and Breakthrough Infections

More than 450,000 U.S. seniors died due to COVID-19 since March 2020. However, the good news is that about 75% of older Americans are now fully vaccinated against the disease. Nonetheless, even if vaccinated, certain groups should take extra steps to avoid a breakthrough infection. This includes:  organ transplant recipients; those taking immunosuppressant drugs; people with serious underlying conditions, such as diabetes or undergoing chemotherapy; and adults over 65 years of age.

As of July 19, 2021 the CDC documented nearly 6,000 cases of fully vaccinated people who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19, and 74% of them were 65 or older. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from the Delta variant:


  • Get a vaccine if you haven’t already done so (unless you are unable because of allergies or other medical conditions);
  • Practice safety measures including social distancing, wearing a mask in public places, and frequent hand washing;
  • Socialize outdoors, when possible;
  • Avoid traveling to certain hot zones where cases are high (currently this includes  Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri; and Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Minimize travel if you have not been fully vaccinated;
  • If you are fully vaccinated, ask your health care provider about getting a spike antibody protein blood test. This can determine your immune response to the vaccine. It can also detect antibodies made in response to a previous COVID-19 infection. The test can help your physician determine if you   developed a response to the vaccine.


In a joint press release with the FDA and NIH, the CDC states at this time Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot.  This statement notes that decision takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data, and cohort data – which can include data from specific pharmaceutical companies. As new data becomes available, the public will be informed and, if necessary, booster doses will be available.


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