Cowley County public health officials have confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in someone who has been fully vaccinated, it was announced Thursday.
So far in June there have been three so-called “breakthough” cases in which a vaccinated person becomes ill and tests positive for COVID-19 for the first time or again, according to Public Health Officer Thomas Langer.
Breakthrough cases are expected because the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 94-96 percent effective, Langer said.
“So, if that holds true out of 12,000 people, we should expect that about 600 people could still become ill even if vaccinated or possessing natural immunity,” he said. “We also know the severity of the illness will be lessoned.”
Langer said of the three cases, one person had just received their second dose and another is a person with a severe pre-existing condition.
The big concern, Langer added, is any mutation of the virus that might make it more infectious. The health department is waiting to find out the strain of COVID-19 in the three breakthrough cases.
None of the three cases are related. The health department has traced each persons illness within families and workplaces and os studying whether there are connections such as age, gender, pre-existing conditions, travel, vaccine type and where and when the vaccine was administered.
Langer said he sees no reason for alarm but the situation does remind people that the virus is still active. There had been 10 cases recorded in the county so far in June, compared to 60 cases during the entire month of June 2020, Langer said. “Understand as well that we would still be seeing hundreds of new cases each month if not for people being vaccinated,” he added.
Langer again debunked rumors about vaccines, this time saying that somebody shared an article with the claim that COVID-19 vaccines were killing people and information was being suppressed. Langer said he found no research connected to the article or footnoted in it. There is still a great deal of fear and confusion about being vaccinated, he added.
“Nobody who has been vaccinated locally has died as a complication of vaccination,” Langer said. “Trying to suppress that information in a community as close knit as Cowley County would be nearly impossible. So please, remember if you have questions about the vaccines, their side effects, or dangers we at the Health Department will always be honest and share with you what we know. Currently, in my view, it is far safer to be vaccinated than to risk illness from COVID-19 and its outcomes.”