ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson discussed the importance of masks in schools, the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, and the phenomenon of COVID-19 breakthrough infections in interviews and a public appearance this week.
In interviews with THV11 and the Clay County Courier, Thompson said masks and other defensive measures need to be employed in all K-12 schools and higher education institutions across the state when the school year begins.
“We’re at a time and we’re at a space with this virus that we need to use all our tools. Masks, ventilators, distancing, hygiene, cleaning. We need to go into the school year as safely as we can,” he told THV11.
Speaking to the Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club on Wednesday, Thompson said the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines is much higher than the effectiveness of flu vaccines.
“[The FDA] found that these vaccines, at least on the parent virus, were over 95% effective and incredibly safe,” Thompson said. “The flu shot is about 60% effective. So that’s how remarkable some of this new technology is on the original parent virus.”
The more contagious delta variant is causing some infections among vaccinated people, or breakthrough infections, but the vaccines “are still effective at avoiding hospitalization and death with the delta variant,” he said.
Thompson also discussed breakthrough infections while appearing as a guest on an episode of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s podcast, “Know the News.”
“About 10% of those individuals in the hospital now had been previously vaccinated,” he said. “They do have a milder pathway, and they are not as susceptible to the worst outcome, loss of life. But this delta variant will and can make you sick, and that’s why the CDC recommended that we all start to mask up again, particularly when we’re in public places with unvaccinated people that [may be] carrying the virus.”