Local experts stress importance of contact tracing as COVID ‘breakthrough’ cases rise

Coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As more people get vaccinated, it is important to point out that the shots do not mean complete immunity.

Instances of people getting the virus after the vaccine are called “breakthrough cases.” While it is very rare, nearly a dozen of those cases in Clark County have been fatal. Experts say everyone needs to be extra careful right now, even people who are fully vaccinated. They add that contact tracing is crucial, maybe now more than ever, as COVID cases spike in Clark County.

“It’s really on the rise right now,” said a Las Vegas woman who wanted to remain anonymous. “I ended up getting sick with COVID.”

The woman says she was about to get the vaccine a couple weeks ago, but then she contracted the virus. Another member of her household has a breakthrough infection, which means she is fully vaccinated, but still got COVID. As of July 1, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) is reporting a total of 70 breakthrough hospitalizations, including 11 breakthrough deaths, in Clark County.

“It’s not something you want to hear,” the woman said.

Still, in most cases, those with a breakthrough infection have mild symptoms.

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker holds a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine vial at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, in South Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“She bounced back a little bit quicker than I did,” the woman said, speaking about the other member of her household.

Both got a text message from SNHD as part of contact tracing. In a statement in 8 News Now, SNHD said, “The Southern Nevada Health District has continued to do contact tracing throughout the pandemic. The contact tracing system works the same way even if someone is already vaccinated.”

Hot spots are not publicized, but experts say with breakthrough cases and the Delta variant of COVID now in the mix, we may need to rethink that.

Dr. Christina Madison — Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences

“If we can really pinpoint one specific event and we think there are multiple people that are impacted, at that point, we may want to notify the public,” said Dr. Christina Madison, an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences.

And due to large, mask-less, indoor gatherings, Dr. Madison says one thing is crucial for everyone.

“You really should get tested, even if you’re vaccinated,” Dr. Madison said.

Experts add, the vaccines are still our best protection. And many locals agree.

“I think the vaccine is doing, hopefully what it’s supposed to do,” said the anonymous woman.

The CDC and SNHD have not updated guidance on mask wearing. But Dr. Madison says it is still a good idea even if you are vaccinated, especially if you are in a large crowd inside.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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