39 fully vaccinated people infected with COVID-19 in NorCal county. Doctors explain why this may not be a surprise

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. -- At least 39 fully vaccinated people in Northern California's Sonoma County have come down with coronavirus over the course of the last two and a half months, according to county officials. However, doctors are cautioning against that headline, saying the efficacy rates actually appear to be very strong, and this is not a surprise.

"That is exactly what we expected and in fact it's probably better than expected," says Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of University of California San Francisco.

Leading experts like Dr. Chin-Hong and Stanford's Dr. Bonnie Maldonado are reacting to news of these "breakthrough cases," saying while these vaccines are difference-makers, they aren't 100% effective.

"We are not invulnerable just because we are vaccinated, so the vaccine is about 90% effective in preventing any infection, but that is (still) a 10% risk," says Dr. Maldonado.

Both doctors agree that by receiving the vaccine your chances of getting COVID-19 are lessened and your body is better prepared to fight the virus, according to the vaccine trials.

"Nobody in the study when they got the vaccine got a serious disease, were hospitalized, or died, which is really important to know even if they weren't fully protected," says Dr. Chin-Hong.

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Two of those 39 people had West Coast mutant variants and others are being tested. The 39 make up around 1% of the county's more than 3,600 COVID-19 cases during that time. Dr. Maldonado says this takes nothing away from the vaccine.

"The immunity we have from the vaccines is the best thing we have going for us if we want to get rid of this virus everywhere, not just in one person."

There are still a number of questions about those 39 individuals. Did they get the same vaccine? How old are they? County officials are going to try to answer some of those questions in a community meeting Wednesday night. That meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Sonoma County's Facebook page.

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Have you had the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine within the last month?

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