State doctor ‘optimistic’ about number of COVID cases among vaccinated people


NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Health officials in New Mexico say the numbers provide a lot of hope. KRQE News 13 has learned very few vaccinated New Mexicans are contracting COVID and getting sick.

More than 30% of New Mexicans are considered fully vaccinated. On Tuesday, Human Services Secretary, Dr. David Scrase said he’s very encouraged by the data he sees playing out across the state.

“I think if we can continue to win the vaccine race, that will help us in our effort not to have another big surge,” Dr. Scrase told KRQE News 13. “I still believe that the faster we can get everyone vaccinated, the more protected we are.”

New Mexico Department of Health data shows just how much the state’s daily COVID-19 case average has plummeted since the beginning of the year when more vaccines entered the picture. January 2021 data showed New Mexico averaged more than 1,458 new cases per day, to now averaging 182 cases per day.

New Mexico daily COVID-19 case averages, according to NMDOH

“We do know that they’re less likely to go in the hospital and the mortality rate is almost zero for vaccinated people,” Dr. Scrase explained. “But we still have to watch case counts. It’s important.”

According to the Department of Health data as of Tuesday, April 6, 30.4% of New Mexicans are considered fully vaccinated. That’s 511,452 people.

Out of that pool, Dr. Scrase said the state knows of 150 confirmed COVID-19 cases among people who are fully vaccinated. That’s 0.03%, or roughly one out of every 3,410 people.

“We’re very pleased with that outcome. We expected some breakthrough cases in vaccinated people because none of the vaccines are 100% effective,” said Dr. Scrase. Considering how many people have been vaccinated, “One hundred fifty is really really strong evidence that the vaccine is very effective,” he added.

Dr. Scrase said two to three vaccinated people are in the hospital with COVID-19, and the state is still investigating to see if the hospitalization is due primarily to the virus. “Anytime a vaccinated person develops what may be a new COVID case, we’re doing genetic sequencing on that to look for variants,” explained Dr. Scrase. “So far, we’re not aware that any of the variants are particularly resistant to the vaccine,” he added.

“But I am very very optimistic and frankly, I was expecting a lot more vaccine breakthrough cases than we’ve seen so far,” Dr. Scrase told News 13. “So I’m taking this as a very positive sign.”

Dr. Scrase also pointed out that vaccinated people with immune disorders are still more susceptible to infection. Regardless of whether or not a person has been vaccinated, “If you have symptoms, then you really do need to get tested,” he said.

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