PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - As more people get vaccinated, health officials say we will see more breakthrough cases of COVID-19, even after people are fully vaccinated.
Health experts say this shouldn’t make you think negatively about the shot.
“Breakthrough is a phenomenon that we see every time we do one of these vaccine trials, unless a vaccine is 100% effective, which is extraordinarily rare,” said Dr. William Messer, an assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University in the departments of medicine and molecular microbiology and immunology.
Messer told FOX 12 there’s a second reason why breakthrough happens. Viruses, he said, are capable of evolving and escaping the immunity we receive from the vaccine.
Take the flu shot, for example. The vaccine changes frequently because experts know the virus does, too.
“It’s entirely possible that that could happen with the coronaviruses, as well, but we don’t have enough observational information on what the vaccine breakthrough viruses look like at this point to know whether that is happening or not,” said Messer.
Despite all this, if you are on the fence about getting the vaccine, don’t let these facts scare you.
The symptoms you experience would likely be minor and your chances of being hospitalized or dying are substantially lower, and in some vaccine trials proven to be 0%.
“It’s not an all or none game. There are still incremental advantages to getting vaccinated even if you were to experience a breakthrough case,” said Messer. “It will probably be less severe, it may be shorter, and it will very likely not lead to you being hospitalized or looking at death.”
Though the Oregon Health Authority announced last month that Oregon may be the first state to report breakthrough cases, with four in mid-February, the agency couldn't respond directly to FOX 12's question about how many cases there had been since then.