‘Breakthrough Cases’ Of COVID Emerge In Washington And Idaho, But That’s Not Surprising

A person gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot at mass clinic in Spokane. Health officials say "breakthrough cases," where those who had the vaccine later get infected with the disease against which they're inoculated, are rare, but can still happen with any vaccine. Courtesy of CHAS Health
A person gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot at mass clinic in Spokane. Health officials say "breakthrough cases," where those who had the vaccine later get infected with the disease against which they're inoculated, are rare, but can still happen with any vaccine. Courtesy of CHAS Health

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BY REBECCA WHITE / SPR

A small percentage of people who’ve been vaccinated in Washington and Idaho have become infected with COVID-19. Health officials say that’s not a sign the vaccine doesn’t work, or that people should cast aside public health guidelines.

Dr. Francisco Velazquez, Spokane County’s interim health officer, said the vaccine does what it’s designed to do, prevent serious cases. He said vaccines don’t stop everyone from being infected. 

“The immunization is not a passport to total freedom,” he said. “It’s actually a preventative measure that will prevent you from getting really sick, it prevents 100% of the mortality and in some ways, according to some of the literature, it does decrease the potential of transmission to others.”

Though about 102 breakthrough cases, a vaccinated person getting the infection, have been detected in Washington, he said none of those are in Spokane County.

“We have a couple anecdotal cases that are being investigated,” he said, “but we don’t have any documented cases in Spokane County.”

According to a state release, the break through cases represent about .01% of people who are vaccinated.

In Idaho there are 97 breakthrough cases.

Dr. Kathryn Turner, Idaho’s deputy state epidemiologist, said three of those people had other medical conditions and needed hospitalized. Most of the rest of those cases were very mild.

“Half of these infections have been asymptomatic, meaning the people we talked to reported they had no symptoms and they were tested for reasons other than illness,” she said. “maybe part of an ongoing testing at their workplace or because they were a close contact to a known case and thought they should be tested.”

Health officials are urging community members to continue to take precautions, especially going into Passover, Easter and spring break, a time where cases are anticipated to spike.

Copyright 2021 Spokane Public Radio. To see more, visit spokanepublicradio.org

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