Some fully vaccinated people could die from COVID-19: who is at risk
While COVID-19 vaccines can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from the disease, fully vaccinated people can become seriously ill and, in rare cases, die from the virus. These people are usually over 65 years of age, have a weakened immune system, or other serious illnesses. The edition told in more detail NBC News.
“Throughout the pandemic, people who have died from COVID-19 have been elderly, and this is still true for new cases,” a Massachusetts Department of Health spokesman said.
In Oregon, about 10% of the sudden infections reported in the state were in people living in nursing homes or community care facilities, and the majority of deaths were in the elderly.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the median age of cases that led to hospitalization is 74 years.
This is the same age group that has been more vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
This trend is also seen outside the United States.
Dr. Tal Brosh, head of the infectious diseases department at Assuta Ashdod University Hospital in Israel, noted that breakthrough infections tend to be more serious among those with comorbid conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease.
“If you are vaccinated and have a lot of comorbidities or weakened immunity, you are not as well protected as other vaccinated people,” Brosh said.
Immunocompromised patients may include people who have already taken medications to suppress their immune systems after organ transplants or cancer.
Such breakthrough infections do not mean that vaccines do not work. No vaccine is 100 percent effective.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially tracked all breakthrough infections, the agency moved on May 1 to track only those related to hospitalizations or deaths. At that time, their number exceeded 10.
But many states continue to track all breakthrough infections, with 27 states reporting more than 65 cases in total.
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This still represents only a tiny fraction of the more than 160 million fully vaccinated people in the United States. And the vast majority of these breakthrough cases “tend to be milder,” said Dr. Jay Butler, head of COVID-19 at the US Centers for Disease Control. "Even if infection occurs, the vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization."
However, breakthrough infections can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death, especially in more vulnerable people.
As of July 12, the CDC has reported nearly 5 cases in which a fully vaccinated person with COVID-500 has been hospitalized or died. Seventy-five percent of these patients were over 19 years of age.
But a breakthrough infection did not necessarily cause hospitalization or death. Many breakthrough infections are asymptomatic and occur by accident or routine examination in patients who are admitted to hospital for other reasons, such as heart disease or other medical problems.
In fact, in 1456 cases, or 28% of the hospitalizations tracked by the CDC, the breakthrough cases were either asymptomatic or did not affect the patient's reason for hospitalization. For example, an elderly man was admitted to the hospital with a heart attack. He tested positive for COVID-19, but without any symptoms. He still needs to be hospitalized for a heart attack.
This can also apply to deaths of people with breakthrough infections.
In Delaware, a spokesman for the state's public health department said that the fact that residents died with a Covid-19 diagnosis "does not mean that Covid was the cause of death."
Similar observations were made in Colorado.
“Someone may have died or been hospitalized for another reason but tested positive for COVID-19,” the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said in an email.
Tracking and analyzing breakthrough infections is important so that public health officials have a good understanding of how vaccines work.
“At the moment, we see no evidence that immunosuppression occurs in people who were vaccinated back in December or January and that they are at a higher risk of breakthrough infections,” Butler said.
But those who remain vulnerable even after vaccinations may need to continue to use masks and social distancing for now, Brosh said.
“Until we are in control of the situation very well, they should not consider themselves very protected,” Brosh said.
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