Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported around 6,000 new breakthrough COVID cases over the last week, and 124 more deaths in people with breakthrough cases.
In the last week, 6,312 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 198 more vaccinated people hospitalized over the period, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. This reflects a steadying of COVID-19 cases -- the previous week saw 6,494 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.
The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 447,200 and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 2,346.
Both figures remain a tiny percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated.
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The equivalent of just 0.14% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 8.5% 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 been declining in recent weeks after a peak that officials attribute in part to the omicron variant. The latest wastewater data shows levels at the same range as before the omicron surge in the Boston area.
There were 4,118 new COVID-19 cases reported in Massachusetts on Tuesday, bringing the total cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,534,071. There were 37 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 22,445.
There were 573 patients hospitalized with the virus, of which 113 were in intensive care units and 68 were intubated.
The state has started releasing a new breakdown of virus hospitalizations, data that indicates whether COVID-19 is the primary cause of hospitalization, or incidental.
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. Officials also warn that health care systems are still under great pressure from the influx of COVID-19 patients and related staffing shortages.
More than 13.8 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.7 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 4.9 million second shots, and over 340,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.8 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 5,275,850 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.
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