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Published on August 31, 2021

vaccinated vs unvaccinated concept

Facts About COVID Breakthrough Cases

Higher rates of COVID-19 infection lead to rising hospitalizations, so vaccines are obviously failing, right?

No. The vaccines are doing what they were designed to do: keep the people who got the shot out of the hospital or worse. Vaccinations designed to prevent any disease were never meant to prevent illness in 100% of our population.

These Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stats show the vaccines are doing what they are supposed to do:

  • One in every 82 unvaccinated people tests positive for COVID-19
  • Only one in 250 fully vaccinated people do the same
  • About 99.75% of fully vaccinated people have not had COVID-19
  • Nationwide, less than 1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations included vaccinated people
  • As of July 25, less than 0.023% of all Minnesotans who were vaccinated needed care in a hospital due to breakthrough COVID
  • In South Dakota, about 97% of cases and 94% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people for the first six months of 2021
  • In Minnesota, only 810 of the 12,559 vaccine breakthrough cases led to hospitalizations, as of Aug. 30
  • Minnesota reported a little more than 7,000 cases of breakthrough COVID among the 3 million residents who have had the vaccine’s full regimen

“The vaccines weren’t made to ‘kill’ COVID-19 as much as slow it down. They are doing just that,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President of Clinical Quality, alluding to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent studies.

COVID Vaccine Better Than Natural Immunity

“I think post-vaccine infection is a better way to name these cases. When we call them breakthrough cases, it suggests vaccines are unreliable,” Basel said. “That is not the case.”

Basel added that vaccines work better than natural immunity, and another new study proved that for people who are unvaccinated, the chance of getting COVID-19 is more than double. Vaccines also keep people out of the ICU.

“The vaccines do a lot of protective work in our bodies, and more people should recognize that fact,” Basel said.

One protection vaccines offer is stopping the virus before it reaches our lungs, where it can do its deadliest work. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is “meaner” because it can create enough of the virus in the upper airway (nose and throat) and therefore lead to greater spread. That’s why masks indoors are a good idea, along with social distancing, thorough hand-washing and other mitigation steps.

“Vaccinated people can get COVID – that’s true,” Basel said. “But they do so at much, much lower rates, and they avoid hospitalization at much, much higher rates.”

The Aug. 25 rate of vaccination among the total population for states in the Avera region includes:

  • Iowa, 51%
  • Minnesota, 55%
  • Nebraska, 51%
  • North Dakota, 41%
  • South Dakota, 49%

Younger Patients Filling Hospitals

According to CDC reports, about 52% of Americans eligible to do so are vaccinated.

“We encourage everyone who is 5 or older and eligible to please: get your shots,” Basel said. “More kids are getting sick – every pocket of unvaccinated people is unfortunately another place where this terrible virus can grow, change and become more threatening.”

Booster shots for those vaccinated are recommended for people who have weakened immune systems. This fall, vaccinated adults are likely to get encouragement to do the same step.

“The path toward a solution is evident: get vaccinated to protect everyone – and yourself.”

Learn more about how you can get vaccinated today and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

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