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COVID-19 breakthrough cases: What you need to know


COVID-19 breakthrough cases: What you need to know

Although the COVID-19 vaccine is extremely effective, it is possible to experience a breakthrough infection even if you’re fully vaccinated.
“Breakthrough cases, although uncommon, should be expected because no vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing illness,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health, our region’s leader in COVID-19 vaccination. “Among the relatively few vaccinated people who do become infected, the vaccine offers excellent protection against serious illness and hospitalization.”

More mild

Numerous studies show the COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces the overall risk of illness from the disease. For the small percentage of vaccinated people who experience a breakthrough infection, the vaccine greatly reduces the likelihood of severe illness and death, as well as the duration of transmissibility to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People who test positive are often either asymptomatic or experience milder symptoms than someone who is unvaccinated.

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“That’s certainly true at Tidelands Health. We are seeing far fewer severe cases among those who are fully vaccinated,” Dr. Harmon says. “The vaccine is a critical tool for gaining the upper hand on this pandemic.”
As of August 30, 2021, more than 173 million people in the United States had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, the CDC had received reports of 12,908 patients with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections who were hospitalized or died – an extremely small fraction of the total people vaccinated.
“The risks of infection, hospitalization and death are all very much lower in vaccinated patients than unvaccinated people, “Dr. Harmon says. “Becoming fully vaccinated is your best defense against the disease.”

No cost

There is no out-of-pocket expense or health insurance needed to be vaccinated. Tidelands Health offers walk-in vaccination at three regional vaccination sites in Horry and Georgetown counties.
In addition to offering the initial two-dose regimen of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the health system is also offering a third dose of the vaccine to individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. For more information, please click here.
Beyond vaccination, the CDC recommends everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated — wear a mask in indoor public places in areas such as Horry and Georgetown counties that are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. Click here to read the CDC’s mask guidance and learn other ways to protect yourself from the illness.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Gerald Harmon

Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.

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