Vaccine Real Talk: Can Fully Vaccinated People Get COVID-19?

Two weeks ago, the New York Yankees made the news when several fully vaccinated people in their organization tested positive for COVID-19. Here in Utah, we’ve also had a small number of confirmed cases of fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19.
A small number of people who are vaccinated will still test positive for COVID-19. These are called “breakthrough cases.” This is to be expected. No vaccine is 100% effective but it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of “breakthrough cases” don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 or very mild symptoms. This means the vaccines are still a success and are doing their job at keeping people from getting seriously ill. The polio vaccine is another example of a vaccine that doesn’t completely stop the polio virus from growing in our bodies but is extremely effective at preventing the disease.

As of late March 2021, which is approximately the time vaccinations were opened to 16 and older. There have been 22,767 total COVID-19 cases identified in Utah 99.6% or 22,208 of them, have been unvaccinated people.

CDC is working with state and local health departments to investigate COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases. They’ll watch for patterns, trends, underlying health conditions, and more to better understand breakthrough cases.

If I can get COVID-19 anyway, why get the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is extraordinarily effective at preventing serious illness in people who get sick with COVID-19. From the Yankees example above, all but one of the people were asymptomatic, which means they didn’t have any symptoms, and the other person was only mildly ill. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to have asymptomatic infection or transmit COVID-19 to others.

Looking back to January 1, about the time when we started opening vaccinations to broader segments of the public:

  • There have been 126,697 total COVID-19 cases identified in Utah. 99.3% (n=125,865) of them have been unvaccinated people.
  • There have been 5,349 people hospitalized. 98.3% (n=5,256) of them were unvaccinated.
  • And there have been 758 deaths. 99.6% (n=755) of them were unvaccinated.

What can be done to prevent breakthrough cases?

The most important thing you can do is get BOTH doses of your vaccine (for Pfizer and Moderna) and take precautions, like wearing a mask around other people, until you’re fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means it’s been 2 weeks since your final dose. For Pfizer and Moderna, that’s 2 weeks after your 2nd dose. For Johnson & Johnson, it’s 2 weeks after your first and only dose.

It’s possible for a person to get sick with COVID-19 if they’re infected just before or just after being vaccinated because their body hasn’t had time to build full protection from the virus yet. With variants still spreading across the globe, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated. Research shows the vaccines are effective against the variants identified so far.

Get the facts from your Doctor

We’ve been on the road throughout the state asking your local family doctors, pediatricians, nurses, pharmacists, and even some of your neighbors about the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve created a series of brief videos of their advice and their answers to common questions. None of their answers are scripted; these are genuine, honest conversations. Hear for yourself what they have to say, or share with a friend or family member who has similar questions.