Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported around 6,000 new breakthrough COVID cases over the last week, down from the previous period, and 190 more deaths in people with breakthrough cases.
In the last week, 6,494 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 244 more vaccinated people hospitalized over the period, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. It's a 47% drop in the rate of new breakthrough cases in Massachusetts -- the previous week saw 12,262 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.
The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 440,888 and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 2,222.
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 0.13% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 8.3% 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 1,459 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday and 90 new deaths, bringing the total case count during the pandemic to 1,523,991 and the death toll to 22,278. The seven-day test positivity rate came in at 3.09%, a small increase from the 3% reported Monday.
There were 882 people reported hospitalized with the virus, with 168 in intenstive care units and 77 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.
Nearly 13.7 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 2.7 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 5,256,256 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.