• COVID-19

    Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Breakthrough COVID-19 infections and booster vaccines

a group of young diverse students or business people in an office wearing face masks and standaing six feet apart for COVID-19 social distancing

Even if you've been vaccinated for COVID-19, you should still wear a mask in public to reduce your chances of becoming infected with COVID-19 and so you don't pass the virus onto somebody else.


Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group says COVID-19 mutations and the virus spread are happening because of people who don't wear masks, who don't get vaccinated and who don't adhere to safety recommendations.

"I believe that we should be radically transparent and honest," says Dr. Poland. "The more time this virus passes through one person after another, the more likely it continues to mutate. As a result of those mutations, two things are happening. Some of the mutations are making vaccines and plasma monoclonal antibodies less effective. The other thing is that the virus will likely become something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives."

Dr. Poland reminds people that vaccine protection is not 100%. Breakthrough infections can occur.

"Remember that in the clinical trials, 95% means that compared to unvaccinated people, your risk is reduced by 95% — not 100%," he says. "You might have a mild case of COVID-19,but you can still spread it to others, including those who are immune compromised, such as cancer patients. That's why we continue to wear masks until we get very widespread immunization."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland talks more about breakthrough infections and the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause, and he answers listeners questions.

Watch: Dr. Poland discusses breakthrough COVID-19 infections and booster vaccines.

Read the full transcript.


For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date

Research disclosures for Dr. Gregory Poland.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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