SEATTLE - Washington state health leaders answered questions regarding "vaccine breakthrough" cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
It’s the term health experts are using for anyone testing positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after being fully vaccinated.
The state has identified 102 breakthrough cases so far between Feb 1 to March 20. It raises questions of demographics, variants, and the vaccines administered.
The state is digging into those questions and they expect to give regular reports on breakthrough cases starting in late April. One thing we do know right now is that all age groups are affected.
James Anderson on Wednesday waited in line at a new vaccination site on the North Seattle Community College campus. After his first vaccine dose, he sat in his car to monitor for any adverse reactions before driving off.
In the same parking lot getting the vaccine was Robert Hobbs. Reflecting on the past year as a professor at Bellevue College, Hobbs became emotional about his students. He hasn’t been able to teach in person and he says he cannot wait to get back inside the classroom.
"I think it’s just the determination that I see in them," Hobbs said.
He’s also determined about the effectiveness of the vaccine despite news of breakthrough cases.
"I don’t see that information changing our purpose or determination even the tiniest amount," Hobbs said.
Of the 102 breakthrough cases, many suffered mild symptoms with about half displaying no symptoms. DOH says 8 people were hospitalized and two potential deaths are now being investigated.
"Keep in mind a million people are fully vaccinated in Washington state. This is a very small portion of people," Lacy Fehrenbach of DOH said.
Dr. Scott Lindquist with DOH acknowledging there could be more unidentified breakthrough cases but still say the issue is not something we should be concerned about.
"I don’t think this is a serious issue and again we are confirming with CDC and this is totally what was expected," Dr. Lindquist said.
The breakthrough cases represent .01 percent so far of those vaccinated, people like Anderson said they are encouraged by those stats.
"It’s .01 percent even if that number was 1 percent that is way better than not," Anderson said.
Health experts say the vaccine still reduces the chance of getting COVID by up to 95 percent.
Dr. Lindquist said if the breakthrough cases have taught him anything, it's to urge people to wear masks in public situations even if they are vaccinated. He is also urging people to get tested before traveling.
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