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Doctors treating breakthrough COVID-19 cases in the Mid-South

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Infectious disease experts confirm they’re dealing with breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in the Mid-South.

A breakthrough infection occurs when a fully vaccinated person still catches the virus.

Researchers say coronavirus vaccines may not work in some people because of their underlying conditions. Starting this month, not every breakthrough infection will be tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis said doctors have treated a couple of very serious breakthrough cases of COVID-19.

“I can tell you the number is very, very low,” Threlkeld told WMC Action News 5. “The only people who have been vaccinated that we have seen sick enough to be in the hospital, let alone the ICU setting, are those people who are immune suppressed and can’t get a good response to the vaccine.”

At the end of April, out of the 95 million Americans who had been vaccinated, the CDC said 9,245 breakthrough cases were reported to the federal agency. Included in the data: 835 hospitalizations and 132 deaths.

May 1, the CDC announced it would no longer track every breakthrough COVID-19 infection.

The agency’s website said:

“The CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance.”

Threlkeld said the breakthrough cases they’re seeing required treatment in the ICU.

“So, people who are organ transplant recipients,” he said, “we’ve seen a couple of those. And those people get very, very ill because they weren’t protected by the vaccine.”

Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently said they found that two doses of the vaccine aren’t enough to completely protect transplant recipients who take immuno-suppressive drugs, so their bodies don’t reject the organ. Those patients are urged to keep following COVID-19 safety measures like masking up and socially distancing.

As of May 24, 2021, the CDC reported 130 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated.

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