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How one state is tracing 'vaccine breakthrough' cases: fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19

Doctors say similar to the flu shot, some people still get sick but it's just not as severe.

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The term is called vaccine breakthrough.

It's defined as someone fully vaccinated who still tests positive for COVID-19 after their last shot.

"They've either received the two doses of Moderna or Pfizer and have waited 14 days after that, or the one dose of Johnson & Johnson and 14 days after that, then they test positive," said Nebraska Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Anthone.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services believes there are about 15 cases in the state.

Anthone is not surprised.

"It's to be expected. The vaccines are not 100% effective against, you know, getting infected by the virus," he said.

"With COVID vaccines, getting an infection after vaccination is pretty rare," said Dr. David Quimby, an infectious disease physician with CHI Health.

Infectious disease experts point to vaccine studies, which show when someone contracts COVID-19 after receiving both doses, they won't be as sick and are less likely to die than if they didn't get vaccinated.

"If I get a little bit of runny nose and cough and get better at home, that's OK. I just don't want to get admitted to the hospital and have a worse outcome," said Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, an infectious disease physician with CHI Health.

The doctors said similar to the flu shot, some people still get sick but it's just not as severe.
Nebraska's 15 vaccine breakthrough cases prove the pandemic is not over, the doctors said.

"If you get a mild illness and are not distancing and not wearing a mask, you could expose many many people who have not been lucky enough to be vaccinated and then the pandemic will start ramping up again locally," Quimby said.