Forty-two percent of San Diego County residents are fully vaccinated as of April 22, and 65% have had at least one dose. This progress is shadowed by the prevalence of virus variants and the occurrence of breakthrough infections. There are several virus variants prevalent in the United States that developed after the current vaccines were tested and distributed. Doctors are still collecting data on whether the post-vaccination cases are normal breakthrough, or a result of the variants conquering the vaccines. The answer to this question has implications for San Diego’s seniors, because seniors are still the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Until doctors know more, seniors, the elderly in home care, and caregivers in San Diego need to be as careful as ever in protecting themselves against coronavirus.
A common misconception about the Covid-19 vaccines is that they prevent infection completely. Some fully vaccinated people that encounter coronavirus won’t get sick at all, but others will still get sick, just less severely or asymptomatically. This is called “a breakthrough infection, … defined as a positive COVID-19 test taken more than two weeks after finishing a vaccine course.” Breakthrough infections are normal, as no vaccine for any disease is 100% proof against new infection. More concerning is the spread of new virus variants that account for the majority of new cases in the U.S. The current vaccines appear to be mostly effective against them, but they also weren’t designed to protect against them specifically. The urgent question is whether these new cases are occurring in fully vaccinated people or people who have not been vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is collecting data on breakthrough cases, and per the Poynter.org website, “To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC said. Here is what the data does show:
- About 40% of the infections were in people older than 60, but breakthrough cases occurred among all age groups.
- 65% were women.
- 29% of the breakthrough infections were reported as asymptomatic.
- 7% of people with breakthrough infections were known to be hospitalized.”
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus vaccine protects people in one of a few ways: from getting sick in the first place, getting very sick, getting sick enough to end up in the hospital or even dying. Even if the new variants don’t respond completely to the current COVID-19 vaccines, getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is still the best way to protect yourself. But as the CDC says on their website, “[B]ecause people can still get sick and possibly spread COVID-19 to others after being fully vaccinated, CDC recommends people continue to take everyday actions to protect themselves and others, like wearing a mask, maintaining an appropriate distance from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing hands often.”
Coranavirus is more dangerous to people with underlying health conditions, which are often also seniors. The best way for people in home care in San Diego, independent seniors and caregivers to stay healthy as the world wrestles Covid-19 is to stay masked, socially distant, and as cautious as possible.
If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, everyone in California over the age of 16 is eligible, including you! Start at https://myturn.ca.gov/ to find all the information you need to set a vaccination appointment for yourself or your loved one.