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Posted on: October 12, 2021

September Review of Cases and Breakthrough Events

COVID-19 vaccines are an effective and critical tool to aid in the efforts to end this pandemic. Large scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccines prevented most people from getting COVID-19, but like most other vaccines, they are not 100 percent effective. This means some fully vaccinated people will still get infected.   When this happens, it’s considered a breakthrough event. Fortunately, there is evidence from research studies and data from Washington State that demonstrates the effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing the risk of severity of illness and needing to go to the hospital or dying from COVID-19.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is closely monitoring and investigating vaccine breakthrough cases to identify possible patterns of infection and disease in the state (see “SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Breakthrough Surveillance and Case Information Resource, October 6, 2021”.)  Likewise, Northeast Tri County Health District works to evaluate data locally about our total number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, including what information we have about breakthrough events.  

Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties ended September with the highest monthly tally of cases experienced by far since the beginning of the pandemic.  Last month, our tri-county area also saw 50 deaths, which is the highest number of deaths experienced in the tri-county area in one month.

 Based on preliminary data for September 2021, for the tri-county area, we know:

  • 1700 individuals were tested and confirmed to have COVID-19.  This count does not include positive results from at-home test kits that were not reported.
  • There were 186 cases involving fully vaccinated individuals (breakthrough events), representing 11% of the cases.
  • In total, there were approximately 97 people who required hospitalization (roughly 6% of the total case count).  Of these hospitalizations, 8 were in fully vaccinated individuals.
  • There were 50 COVID-19 related deaths reported in September that were listed as probable or confirmed. Of these deaths, 10 occurred in fully vaccinated individuals. Of these 10 deaths, we know that the average age was 84 and 3 were associated with long term care facilities.

This is the most recent data we can accurately share, and it may change as we get additional information.

This data helps demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccines at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, however risks are still present even to those who are fully vaccinated.   Vaccines are part of the disease prevention framework, but we all need to be part of the solution to prevent transmission in our communities. Please remember to:

  • Stay home when you are sick, even with mild cold or flu-like symptoms, and get tested for COVID-19.
  • If you are awaiting test results or are a confirmed case or close contact, please observe isolation and quarantine timeframes.
  • Use good hygiene and wash your hands often.
  • Wear a mask when indoors and around non-household members or when social distancing cannot be observed outside.
  • If you have not been vaccinated, consider doing so now.  If you have questions about the safety of vaccines, please talk to your trusted health care provider.  Find a vaccine provider near you.
  • Find out if you qualify for a 3rd dose (for immunocompromised individuals) or a booster dose.

When we layer all of these strategies together, we protect ourselves, our friends and family, and our communities the best we can.  

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