UW Health doctor reminds people of effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine, despite breakthrough cases

“Overall, the vaccines are succeeding in meeting all of these goals.”
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Despite breakthrough cases, COVID-19 vaccines are effective and can protect against the most severe effects of the virus, according to a doctor at UW Health. Breakthrough cases occur when someone who is fully vaccinated contracts the virus.

Dr. Joseph McBride is an adult and pediatric infectious disease physician at UW Health. He said that no vaccine is 100% perfect in preventing disease, but they are still important in preventing the worst from happening.

“Breakthrough cases are significantly less common in a vaccinated person than a natural infection would be in an unvaccinated person,” he said.

McBride said breakthrough cases are possible in any vaccine because of the variability of each individual. While vaccines can lower your risk of contracting the virus, they can also lower your risk of severe illness.

“When we look at risk, when we look at severe disease, people needing to be intubated, put on ventilators, be hospitalized, death, these are the bad outcomes,” he said. “To know that they are significantly better protected by receiving the vaccine should be an argument certainly to get the shot.”

McBride said that breakthrough cases should not discourage people from getting the vaccine, and that there are “significant benefits of getting the vaccine beyond a positive test.”

“When we look at a vaccine and we try to find out just how beneficial it is, there are three different groups we want to look at,” he said. “We want to look at how good is it at preventing infection. For those breakthrough cases, how good is it at mitigating severity of disease like hospitalization and death, and what does it do from a public health standpoint? Overall, the vaccines are succeeding in meeting all of these goals.”

According to data from Public Health Madison & Dane County, in July, there were 125.4 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 fully vaccinated people. There were 369.2 cases per 100,000 not fully vaccinated people.

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