Three ‘breakthrough’ virus cases found in Hawaii

The state Department of Health has identified three “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19, in which a fully vaccinated individual has contracted the coronavirus disease.

DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said in an email Friday that the number is not outside what the department would expect with nearly 165,000 people in Hawaii who are fully vaccinated.

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“A vaccine with 95% efficacy will protect 95 out of 100 people,” he said.

“This means 5% may still contract COVID if exposed. This is another reason we must all do our part to keep case counts low. The lower the prevalence of COVID in the community, the lower the chance any of us — even those who have been vaccinated — will be infected.”

One case was identified in the DOH’s weekly cluster report as an Oahu health care worker who completed the vaccine series in January and traveled to multiple mainland cities approximately a month later.

Pre-travel testing was performed for the individual and a travel companion in preparation for returning to Hawaii.

Both individuals tested positive after returning to Hawaii.

According to the report, neither developed symptoms, and no transmission to close contacts occurred.

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Baher said none of the individuals with “breakthrough” COVID infections became severely ill, and none are known to have transmitted COVID to someone else.

“The vaccines are preventing serious illness as they are designed to do,” he said.

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