Vaccine breakthrough cases: Few COVID-related hospitalizations, deaths

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New breakthrough case data from the state shows just how rare it is for someone to get sick from COVID-19 after getting the vaccine. The data, released at a press conference with state health officials on Wednesday, gives a better idea of just how effective the vaccine is in helping to prevent hospitalizations and even deaths from the virus.

“If you’re unvaccinated, you have ten times the chance of being hospitalized than if vaccinated; and deaths, unfortunately now, death rates among unvaccinated people are now 22.6 times higher than for vaccinated people,” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said.

Out of more than 937,000 fully vaccinated New Mexicans as of June 1, the state has identified fewer than 700 breakthrough cases or 0.074%. Those are vaccinated people who later tested positive for COVID.

Officials say there were no surprising patterns among demographic groups.

Among those, 67 people were hospitalized, and just under a quarter of them were deemed to be COVID-related. Eight of those breakthrough cases died, with six of them having COVID listed as the immediate or underlying cause of death. Many of them had pre-existing conditions.

State health officials maintain that getting the vaccine is critical to help reduce COVID symptoms when they do show up.

“Vaccine breakthroughs are expected. The good news is, even when a vaccine breakthrough case does occur, there’s evidence the vaccination likely reduces the severity of illness,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said.

This comes as more than 578,000 eligible New Mexicans still haven’t received their first shot or aren’t planning to get it. Dr. Scrase said the state is still on track to reach its goal of 60-percent of eligible New Mexicans being fully vaccinated by June 30. Right now, the state is at 56-percent.

A breakthrough case is determined by someone who tests positive more than 14 days after being fully vaccinated. It also has to be at least 90 days after a previous positive COVID test.

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