Commentary: I went to a party with 14 other vaccinated people; 11 of us got COVID

I was sitting at an exam table in an urgent care clinic Timonium and giving my medical history to the assistant. She would call me an hour later to confirm my positive for COVID-19.It was exactly what I expected, given the way I felt. It was not supposed to happen. I've been fully vaccinated for several months.Five days prior, I had been to a Montgomery County house party. The party had 15 people, all fully vaccinated. Our host began to feel unwell the next day. She tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. She immediately informed us all. I was not too concerned. Although it was unfortunate for my friend, I knew she wasn't contagious. We were all immune, surely. I was sitting across from her. I decided to stay at home and be isolated from my family for a few more days. Even that seemed excessive.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I did not need to change my vaccinations if I developed symptoms. I am an epidemiologist at a large medical research university. They have a dedicated hotline for COVID exposure. It was answered by workers who said that I did not need to do anything.Then I heard that some other party-goers were becoming sick. Then, a few more. At this point, 11 out of 15 people tested positive for COVID.Fortunately, none seem to be very sick. When people are fully vaccinated, they don't tend to develop serious illness that requires hospitalization. I believe this will be the case with us. Even a mild case COVID-19 can be very miserable. I have had fever, muscle aches, and chills. I've also been unable to get out of bed. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.Our research group has demonstrated that the COVID vaccine doesn't always work in transplant recipients. I am proud of the work that we have done. Once I had the vaccine, I knew that the COVID battle was over. In an act of precaution, I did an antibody test shortly after receiving my second dose of vaccine. It was a remarkable result.Continue the storyAlthough I don't like me or my fully vaccinated friends getting sick, I have been considering what this little outbreak means for us all. Here's what I came up with:The CDC and state and local health departments need to do a better job of collecting and reporting data about breakthrough infections. In May, the CDC stated that it would only collect data about breakthrough infections that resulted in hospitalizations or deaths. These are thankfully rare. However, this means that epidemics such as ours will not be noticed. Anyone could spread the virus to others, including those who have been vaccinated. It is not known if the vaccine is wearing down or if some other reason caused our group to become ill. We will never know without good data.COVID is a serious illness that can be fatal to fully vaccinated individuals. I was worried that I was overreacting when I left work at noon and moved to my basement immediately. I am glad that I did.Businesses and governments should reconsider introducing masking requirements even for people who have been vaccinated. They were still at high risk of becoming sick and could infect others. Recently, the CDC recommended that masks be worn by vaccinated persons in areas where there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people per semaine. Montgomery County had 19.4 new cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days preceding my exposure.Research into booster vaccines should be prioritized by governments, research institutions, and pharmaceutical companies. It seemed that two Janssen doses or one mRNA dose might be enough. However, it seems that being fully vaccinated does not necessarily guarantee your immunity.The COVID-19 vaccines are a great help. Since I was vaccinated, I expect a less severe course of illness. COVID-19 isn't over for those who have been vaccinated. We must adapt to the changing pandemic as it evolves.___