Amid breakthrough cases, local health departments focus on boosters and contact tracing

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Health officials continue emphasizing the importance of vaccination, stressing that even with the prevalence of breakthrough cases, vaccinated individuals are less likely to experience severe illness. They say even with the progress in vaccines, one thing that hasn’t changed is the critical need for contact tracing.

“We are still helped out by the state, so the state platform of their assistance for contact tracers is still in effect,” said Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman. “That process will continue for as long as COVID-19 is with us.”

According to Warren County Public Health Spokesman Don Lehman, the process has become more difficult for his department, because more people are attending large gatherings like concerts, weddings, and sporting events.

“The unfortunate part of that is right now we’re dealing with this Delta strain that is much more transmissible,” Lehman said.

If you do have a close contact with a positive case, and you’re vaccinated, health officials may just advise you to monitor for symptoms. Lehman warns you not to assume you’re definitely in the clear, because the department is seeing people become infected even from lower levels of contact.

“The vaccine is not going to be a force field that is going to kind of have the virus bounce off of you, it’s going to work to keep you from getting seriously sick,” Lehman said.

Both counties are focusing on tracking breakthrough infections and getting booster shots to vulnerable populations that received the Pfizer series.

“People are generally receptive of the booster shot. Remember, we’re in a different time now than we were a year ago where there was such vaccine limited supply. Now the vaccine is everywhere,” Fluman said.

“I think the people who know they need a little extra protection are seeking that out, so that’s good,” said Lehman.

New York State is encouraging booster shots and has a new website that focuses on breakthrough cases.

“The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be our greatest protection against the virus for eligible New Yorkers.  That is why we taken multiple steps to increase the vaccination rate and to successfully protect our neighbors and loved ones from this virus. It’s important to remember, getting vaccinated is safe, free and effective, so we encourage everyone to get their shots right away.”

NYS Department of Health

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