On Wednesday, in response to a query from Deadline, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer confirmed that at least a dozen local residents had been infected with Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated.
“Yes, it is possible to test positive for the virus after being fully vaccinated,” Ferrer reported. She estimated that the number of post-vaccination infections is likely “very small.”
Ferrer said all of the so-called “breakthrough cases” of infection detected in the county occurred in long-term care facilities. In all, there were 12 fully-vaccinated people who were infected. Four of them were residents of those facilities, and eight were staff.
“I’m sure there are other places [in L.A. County] because I know across the country that there have been more [breakthrough] cases,” Ferrer said before noting the detected cases in long-term care facilities weren’t likely because of any lack of precaution but rather because the data from those environments is better.
“This is one place where we have really good data in part because of our strong partnership with long-term care facilities.”
Ferrer also added, “The vast majority of people who have tested positive after being fully vaccinated are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms.
“Here in L.A. County we don’t know of anybody who has been hospitalized or — unfortunately — passed away.”
But, as for other local breakthrough cases of Covid-19 infection, the data is very incomplete, she said making an overall assessment “a hard question to answer.”
Earlier on Wednesday, 39 breakthrough cases were reported in Sonoma County over the course of the past 2 1/2 months, according to county officials.
It is unclear how the 12 infections occurred in vaccinated residents, but one source might be vaccine-resistant variants. The number of variants in Los Angeles in growing, though it is uncertain which –if any — might be vaccine-resistant.
Health officials at the national, state and local levels all observe that, whatever the case, the vaccines still provide a good level of protection.
“There’s nothing there yet that’s a red flag,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci at a recent White House briefing. “We obviously are going to keep an eye on that very, very carefully. But I don’t see anything that changes our concept of the vaccine and its efficacy.”
According to the CDC, “Current data suggest that Covid-19 vaccines used in the United States should work against these variants.”
As for breakthrough infections, the CDC recognizes that they occur but agrees with Ferrer that vaccination can help even those patients avoid serious illness:
“Some people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will still get sick because the vaccines are not 100% effective. When this happens, vaccination might help keep you from getting seriously ill, based on data from clinical studies.”
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