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Doctor puts ‘breakthrough’ cases into context; no cause for alarm if vaccinated

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — You’ve gotten your original vaccine series, rolled up your sleeve for a booster, and are possibly armed with natural immunity.

So, why if you take a COVID-19 test does it still come back positive?

If this sounds familiar, you’re experiencing what scientists call a “breakthrough” case. They are defined as when a fully vaccinated person later gets the disease they were vaccinated for. 

But breakthrough cases are by no means uncommon and can happen with many viral infections, the flu included. Just because a person gets infected with COVID-19 does not mean the vaccine isn’t working.

“It does imply the vaccine is failing, but the vaccine isn’t failing,” Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, told News 8. “There are so many different intended outcomes of being vaccinated. Of course, the most significant one is does it prevent people from dying? And that’s goal No. 1.”

Research shows the answer is yes. This calls for a change in perspective of what the barometer of success for a vaccine is. Two doses of Pfizer is just 30 to 40% effective against omicron, the now-dominant strain in the United States and globally.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday the variant will find just about everybody, regardless of vaccination status. However, people who are vaccinated will fare much better.