Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported around 3,900 new breakthrough COVID cases over the last week, and one new death in people with breakthrough cases.
In the last week, 3,892 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 83 more vaccinated people hospitalized over the period, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. This is 42% in cases compared to the previous period -- the previous week saw 2,732 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.
The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 463,015 and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 2,223.
These figures remain a tiny percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated.
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The equivalent of just 0.15% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 8.7% have had confirmed infections. An even smaller percentage has died: 0.04%. The report also doesn't indicate how many of the breakthrough cases are in people with underlying conditions, though it also notes that "may be undercounted due to discrepancies" in records.
While vaccinated people are getting COVID-19, the virus' effects are severely blunted in them, and breakthrough cases rarely lead to hospitalizations or deaths. In December, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials released a study that found that 97% of breakthrough cases in the state did not become severely ill and rarely led to deaths, especially among young people.
That's why public health officials worldwide continue to stress the importance of vaccination and booster shots. (If you still need to be vaccinated, here's a tool to find the closest vaccination provider to your home.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have declined since the omicron surge and appear to have leveled out.
On Tuesday the state reported 882 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the grand total since the pandemic began to 1,561,670. There were 16 new deaths reported, bringing the death toll to 18,988. The seven-day average positivity rate came in at 2.2% Tuesday, compared to 2.02% on Monday.
There has been a slight increase in test positivity seen in recent data, as well as slight increases in COVID-19 wastewater levels tracked by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's tracking system. The levels remain nowhere near where they were during the omicron surge.
Hospitalizations and deaths in the state remain relatively low.
Experts have said that case count reporting may be a less accurate indicator during the omicron surge, given the difficulties in getting tested and widespread use of rapid tests that go unreported.
There are concerns about the so-called "stealth" omicron variant BA.2. Increases in cases abroad are raising concerns that the U.S. could soon experience another COVID-19 wave. However, medical officials don't expect that the rise of BA.2 will result in a spike in cases similar to the omicron surge late last year into early 2022, though they still urge caution.
More than 14 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.8 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 4.9 million second shots, and over 342,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.9 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 5,320,736 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.
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