CM – Post-booster breakthrough Covid-19 cases occur, but rarely


A small number of breakthrough cases of Covid-19 occur among people who received both a full round of vaccination and a booster vaccination.

Heather Green received her Covid-19 booster, a third injection, in late September of the Pfizer vaccine. A month later, the 47-year-old was surprised to find in a routine test that her mild allergy-like symptoms were actually caused by Covid-19.

« I was grateful that I got the booster because this disease is so unpredictable », says Ms. Green, who was tested as part of a voluntary surveillance program at Philadelphia Elementary School, where she teaches third grade. Two days later, her symptoms were gone, she says.

Boosters are now being spread across the country. Doctors say they have seen few cases of infection so far in people who have received a booster vaccination. For example, Geisinger, a Pennsylvania-based healthcare provider with more than 1.5 million patients, says that 62 out of 24,000 positive Covid-19 tests – a rate of about 0.2% – have been found in people as of September 1 were who received a booster.

Despite the low number of breakthrough cases after the booster, the advent of the new Omicron variant has raised the question of how well the vaccines will hold up against it. There is little data available right now as scientists try to understand Omicron. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pursuing breakthrough cases but does not specifically break out post-booster infections.

Doctors strongly recommend patients receive a booster vaccination. They say the fraction of people who could contract Covid-19 despite having a booster vaccination can expect milder symptoms and a shorter illness. They’re also much less likely to get hospitalized or die than people who aren’t vaccinated.

« I can’t tell you how important I think it is for people to get boosters, » says

Bruce Farber,

Chief of Public Health and Epidemiology at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y. “Apart from that, nobody can say that a refresher is 100% effective. In the best of circumstances, it will get you roughly where you were right after the first two vaccines, before Delta. ”

After a booster, your protection is around 90%, he says. About 10% of people with a booster vaccination could still get infected.

Dr. Farber says he knew of three patients who had breakthrough cases after the booster, one of whom was immunocompromised. « The good news is they weren’t very sick, » he says.

Data from Israel has shown that people who receive a booster vaccination and develop a breakthrough infection have a much lower risk of hospitalization or to die.

Dennis Cunningham,

The infection control and prevention system medical director at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit says the health system has seen some hospital patients receive a booster dose. He says that the patients are usually older, usually over 75 years old, or have immune deficiencies such as cancer.

« I don’t see any healthy people who are hospitalized with vaccinations, » he says.

David Wohl,

a medical professor in the Infectious Disease Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says he heard of a breakthrough infection after a booster in his department. It was an 86-year-old woman who was asymptomatic and who tested positive for Covid-19 in the hospital for another reason, he says.

« We just don’t see any » breakthrough cases in people who have been given boosters says Dr. Well. « If there was a real vulnerability, I think we would see more cases. »

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« Even when boosting, there is no special force field that magically protects the virus from entering the nose and throat, » says Dr. Well. “It can still do that. We’re just really good at getting rid of it faster. ”

Heather Wyatt, a 48-year-old in Port Washington, N.Y., received a booster vaccination in September after receiving her first two


Recordings in March. She suffers from several underlying health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

She says the booster helped her avoid serious complications when she recently contracted Covid-19. She had flown to a friend’s surprise party in Nashville, Tennessee, in mid-November. She was diagnosed with Covid-19 a few days after she returned home.

Ms. Wyatt says the illness wasn’t as bad as some previous colds that have turned into pneumonia. « I didn’t get all the heavy breast stuff, » she says. Instead, she felt like she had the flu for two weeks, with pain, a sore throat and a slight fever during the night.

« I think if I hadn’t gotten that with the vaccine and booster, it would be a lot worse and I would have had real problems, ”she says.


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