YORK COUNTY, S.C. — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the Carolinas and some of the positive cases are among people who have been vaccinated already. They’re called breakthrough cases, and experts have always said they are possible because no vaccine is perfect, and data shows they make up a very small percentage of COVID-19 cases.
In recent weeks, several notable people have been among the breakthrough cases, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Ralph Norman.
Rep. Norman told WCNC Charlotte he is feeling okay but lost his taste and smell and has been tired. He is on day four of quarantine and is fully vaccinated, which doctors say is the reason his symptoms are less severe.
“I was surprised, I really was,” he said of his diagnosis.
He doesn't know where he was exposed and has only had minor symptoms. He says the decision to get vaccinated was an easy one for him but should be an individual choice.
“To mandate it I think is wrong," Norman said. "We don’t mandate people to take chemo if they get cancer, we don’t mandate for people to take the flu shot."
No vaccine is perfect so breakthrough cases like his are possible.
From May 1 to Aug. 3, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 255 cases of vaccine breakthroughs that led to hospitalization or death to the CDC -- that's out of the 2.2 million people in the state who have gotten at least one shot, or .01%.
Beginning May 1, 2021, the CDC transitioned from monitoring all vaccine breakthrough cases to identifying and investigating only hospitalized and fatal cases of vaccine breakthrough.
“We are seeing that some people who have been fully vaccinated are spreading the virus to others but again it is a much lower rate than among unvaccinated people,” Dr. Charles Bregier with Novant Health said.
Congressman Norman says having COVID-19 isn't fun, but he's lucky his case has been mild.
Statewide, vaccination rates have been lagging and 45% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
“It’s a freedom to choose," Norman said. "Everyone’s got to examine and answer for themselves should I take the vaccine.”
He’ll get tested again on Friday to see if he's able to safely leave quarantine and get back to his daily life.