“Breakthrough” infections have become as big of a health concern as it is a buzzword. A new study, however, has highlighted who has the highest risk of infection despite vaccination.
Breakthrough COVID infections are defined as infections that occur even after a person has been fully vaccinated. No vaccine is entirely effective at eliminating infection risk; however, they are very effective at minimizing illness severity if an infection does occur.
Although relatively rare, breakthrough infections can happen. Even rarer is that a breakthrough infection will result in hospitalization or death.
A new study from British researchers looked at data from nearly 7 million vaccinated adults and identified who is at greatest risk of severe breakthrough infection. Of the 7 million, 5 million had received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
They learned, perhaps unsurprisingly, that immunocompromised individuals were at the highest risk for breakthrough infections. Chemotherapy patients, those who had recently received a bone marrow or solid organ transplant, or had HIV/AIDS had the highest risk.
Along with those groups, people in nursing homes, with neurological disorders, or other chronic illnesses, had higher risk than the general population.
All in all, however, the data revealed that there are relatively few COVID-19 related hospitalizations that occur in people who’ve received both doses of vaccine.
Some health agencies around the world are exploring the idea of booster shots for immunocompromised individuals, which may reduce the risk of breakthrough infections in these populations.
It’s essential to assess your own risk when making decisions about how to behave during the pandemic. It may offer some relief to those remaining anxious about their risk after receiving vaccines, while it may lead others to exercise greater caution.
As always, follow local health protocols and continue to be diligent to reduce the risk of infection.