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Breakthrough cases add to data on COVID-19

Health officials: vaccines effective, in most cases


Last updated 4/2/2021 at 5:39pm

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State health officials are investigating a small percentage of "breakthrough cases," where people test positive for COVID-19 after becoming fully vaccinated.

In Snohomish County, 10 confirmed COVID-19 breakthrough cases are on record, said Heather Thomas, public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District. "To our knowledge, none have been hospitalized or died."

Out of 1 million fully vaccinated individuals in Washington state, epidemiologists report evidence of 102 breakthrough cases since Feb. 1, a Department of Health news release states. That number is .01% of vaccinated people in Washington.

Scientists agree that breakthrough cases are no surprise, in vaccinated people, and that current advice persists: pandemic protocols stay in place, and vaccinating for COVID-19 is still a good decision.

These types of cases "are to be expected with any vaccine," said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. "The number of vaccine breakthrough cases in Snohomish County remains exceptionally low. This demonstrates just how effective the vaccines are, but it also highlights the importance of continuing to wear masks and watch your distance around people you don't live with."

DOH is looking into two deaths in the state that are potentially tied to vaccine breakthrough cases. Both were older than 80 years old and suffered underlying health issues, DOH said.

Breakthrough cases have been identified in 18 counties, the DOH said. The outlier cases add to other disturbing but rare data on the COVID-19 virus, which includes versions that linger triggering breathing difficulty and fatigue and disease variants that are still under study. As of April 1, the P1 variant was known to be in Snohomish County.

It is not known which other counties have those cases.

“DOH is not releasing the names of the counties where the vaccine breakthroughs occurred,” said Julie Grauert COVID-19 Public Information Officer for DOH.

What people can do now is the same that they have been doing, and health officials continue to recommend standard pandemic protocols.

Scientists have begun to discuss a vaccine-2.0 for emerging strains, according to STAT News.

"The next step down the road in life is probably going to be adjusting the vaccines in future years, as these variants emerge, so that we can match up better with them and block them from getting transmitted," Spitters said.


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