Breakthrough infections refer to infections that occur in someone who has been vaccinated against the disease. In this short video, Dr. Paul Offit discusses breakthrough infections following COVID-19 vaccination and explains why vaccination is still important even when a vaccine does not prevent disease in everyone who gets it.
Can I get COVID-19 after getting vaccinated?
Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's Tuesday, May 4th, 2021. I think one thing people want to know is how effective are these vaccines in the real world. In other words, if I get the vaccine, can I be assured that I'm not going to get any manner of infection or any manner of disease?
And the answer is, no vaccines is 100% effective. What we're finding out though is that from effectiveness studies that have been done now that the vaccine is out there in the real world, that it's highly effective. That it's about 90% effective at preventing mild, moderate or severe disease, but it's also pretty highly effective at preventing even asymptomatic infection (when you don't have any symptoms, but you still can be shedding the virus and still be contagious). And it's highly effective in people who are older. And it's highly effective in people who have a variety of comorbidities, things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease, which puts them at risk. So that's good news, but it's not a 100%. So, there are people who can have so-called breakthrough illness.
The breakthrough illness rate appears to be very low, in the sort of 7% range so far, which means that you still can become ill or you still could be hospitalized with this virus. And I think it's still possible you could, rarely, die from this virus. But again, it's extremely rare.
So I think when you start to read those cases in the media about people who despite getting a vaccine have developed say an illness or been hospitalized, that's what you would expect because it's not a 100% effective, but it is highly effective.
Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center
Last Reviewed on Jun 01, 2021