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Tennessee’s ‘Breakthrough’ COVID Cases Show Vaccines Are Effective, Not Perfect

Blake Farmer | WPLN

Tennessee has recorded 908 COVID cases among vaccinated residents. That’s roughly what scientists would have expected, even as they lauded how effective the COVID vaccines are.

By comparison, the state has recorded more than 150,000 COVID cases since anyone was fully vaccinated. So, the so-called “breakthroughs” represent just a fraction of 1% of the total cases, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects that the documented breakthrough cases probably represent an undercount. Most people who’ve been vaccinated likely wouldn’t show any symptoms and have no reason to get tested.

Fourteen people have died after getting the vaccines, but Dr. David Aronoff, director of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says other factors were likely in play.

“Many times they’re being hospitalized for things completely unrelated to COVID, or they are highly immunosuppressed or immunocompromised people, for whom we would predict they would not have a robust response to vaccines,” he says.

Aronoff says the key to stomping out COVID is having enough people taking the shot so that when someone does get sick, it makes it hard for anyone else to get infected. And when they contract the virus, the symptoms are less severe or non-existent.

Aronoff says the vaccines have performed remarkably well on both counts. However, there have been 14 fatalities in Tennessee and at least 132 nationwide, according to the CDC.

“We don’t need vaccines to be perfect to help get us out of this pandemic,” he says.

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