Vaccine Tracker: What risk do unvaccinated people pose to the public?

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:08 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - On this edition of the Vaccine Tracker we are looking into how protected fully vaccinated people are when it comes to unvaccinated people. If you are fully vaccinated and able to ditch the mask in public, you don’t have much to worry about when it comes to unvaccinated people.

Out of all people fully vaccinated less than .01% will get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.

“So really what we have done is we have empowered the American people to make their own decisions about their own health. What I can tell you if someone is certainly hacking at a restaurant, I would like them to put on a mask and more importantly I would encourage them to get vaccinated if they weren’t. More importantly what I would say is if you are near that person and you are vaccinated your risk is variously quite low,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says.

Out of over 17 million people who are fully vaccinated in the US, there have only been 9,245 breakthrough cases of COVID-19. Those have resulted in only 832 hospitalizations, and 132 deaths.

“The risk that unvaccinated individuals might pose to someone who is fully vaccinated is very minimal. We know that the vaccines at our disposal are extremely effective and after you have that full vaccination status you are able to take off your mask and not worry about social distancing, really don’t have to worry about interacting with others around you,” Gillian Conrad says. She is the Communications Director Berrien County Health Department.

If you do get a breakthrough case the CDC says symptoms, if any, will be mild to moderate.

The CDC published a study on 4,000 frontline health care workers and found the vaccines were 90% effective at preventing infection. As for the higher risk age groups, another CDC published study says Pfizer and Moderna were 94% effective at preventing infection in those 65 and older. So, if you are vaccinated, your risk is low.

We’re also looking into the age group that cannot yet get vaccinated from COVID-19, and that’s children under 12. The CDC says children under the age of two should not wear a mask. However, Dr. Fauci says those ages 3 to 11 should wear a mask especially indoors. Local health officials we spoke with agree.

“Children under the age of 12 we know are not able to receive a vaccination at this point. So, it is important that there is an element of masking and social distancing that’s maintained for those children especially in that school setting,” Conrad says.

Currently studies are being done on the Pfizer vaccine to assess safety for vaccinating ages 12 and under.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on the vaccination rollout, and I want to hear from you. Email me at or find me on Facebook and send a message if you have an issue or idea of something we can dig into on the Vaccine Tracker.

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