ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany Medical Center gave the Capital Region pause when it reported Thursday a fully vaccinated individual was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The patient, one of 24 patients admitted to the hospital for COVID during the last week, was also one of two fully vaccinated patients admitted to the hospital for COVID to date, according to Director of Communications, Sue Ford Rajchel.
With a growing number of fully vaccinated Capital Region residents or those that have begun the vaccination process, Rajchel said the hospital recently began “measuring COVID-19 admissions for vaccination.”
“To date, two fully vaccinated patients have been admitted for moderate, but not severe symptoms. These patients have not required ICU care. It is important to note that breakthrough cases, while rare, are to be expected and represent a significantly small percentage of those who have been vaccinated,” she said.
Efficacy rates are between 94%-95% for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines, 77% for the Johnson and Johnson version put on hold. People may be questioning the necessity of getting vaccinated at all and why government and/or health officials aren’t making a big deal out of “breakthrough” cases.
The answer is as Rajchel said, these cases represent a very small number of those fully vaccinated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as vaccine manufacturers, were expecting that despite being vaccinated some people would still get sick from COVID.
How small is the population of fully vaccinated people who have been diagnosed with COVID? Less than 1%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who said 5,800 out of more than 75 million vaccinated have been diagnosed with COVID on Thursday.
Out of those 5,800 fully vaccinated people who got COVID, 74 individuals died and 7% were hospitalized, the CDC said.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) said they are aware of the two cases at Albany Med and will be investigating them to make sure they meet the CDC’s formal definition of a “breakthrough” case. They also reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated.
“A COVID-19 vaccine remains the single best weapon against this dangerous virus, which is why New York State has worked to fully vaccinate more than 5.2 million individuals against COVID-19 in just under four months,” the DOH said Friday.
The DOH also pointed to CDC recommendations including that COVID vaccines are important in stopping the spread of COVID, people should get all recommended doses of COVID vaccine, that the vaccines prevent serious illness from COVID, and that no vaccine is 100% effective.
The CDC said they will start monitoring breakthrough cases in earnest going forward.
“In the coming weeks, CDC will transition from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only vaccine breakthrough infections that result in hospitalization or death. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance,” the CDC said.
The CDC said as they move their focus to identify breakthrough cases they will begin reporting the numbers on its website every Friday. They did not give a date when they would begin reporting those numbers.