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These Are Your Chances of Getting COVID After Your Vaccine

"Breakthrough infections" have happened. Here's how common they are.

About 5,800 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, a small fraction of the 66 million people in the U.S. who've been completely inoculated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Read on to see why that could happen—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.

"Breakthrough Infections" Have Happened to 0.008% of the Population

These "breakthrough infections" — defined as testing positive for COVID two or more weeks after receiving the final COVID vaccine dose — amount to about 0.008% of the fully vaccinated population, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The CDC said that 29 percent of breakthrough infections were asymptomatic, while 7 percent resulted in hospitalization. Seventy-four people have died from breakthrough infections, but it's unclear which vaccine they received, how many may have had pre-existing health conditions, or if other factors contributed to the deaths.

More than 40 percent of the breakthrough cases occurred in people older than 60, and 65 percent of the infected were women, the CDC said.

The number of cases is in line with official expectations, the Wall Street Journal reported. Experts have long warned that even fully vaccinated people may develop COVID-19, because the currently approved vaccines are highly effective but not foolproof. That's why health officials have urged fully vaccinated people to continue practicing public-health precautions such as wearing face masks and social distancing. 

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick

Don't "Get Excited" About These Few Cases, Says Dr. Fauci

"You will always see some breakthrough infections, no matter the efficacy of your vaccine," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told the Journal. "Before people get excited about the quantitative number of infections, they need to understand what the denominator is, and we're going to see breakthroughs in numbers that are going to be well within the 90 percent, 95 percent, 97 percent effectiveness rates of the vaccines."

Also on Thursday, CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Congress the agency is "keeping a close eye" on breakthrough cases and explained what might be causing them. "Some of these breakthroughs are, of course, failures of an immune response in the host, and then some of them, we are worried might be related to a variant that is circulating, so we're looking at both," she said.

The agency is slated to publish a full report on breakthrough infections next week.

RELATED: Doctors Say "DO NOT" Do This After Your COVID Vaccine

How to Survive This Pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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