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State reports 102 COVID infections in fully vaccinated people

Medical laboratory scientist, Aniela Sobel, tests serology samples from the Novavax phase 3 Covid-19 clinical vaccine trial. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The Washington Department of Health said Monday that it is investigating reports of so-called “vaccine breakthrough” cases, where people tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated.

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According to the DOH, because vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infection, “a small percentage of fully vaccinated people can be expected to still get COVID-19.”

The state estimates that out of roughly a million people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus, 102 breakthrough cases across 18 counties have been reported since Feb. 1. That represents .01% of Washington’s vaccinated population.

“The majority” of those who reported vaccine breakthrough “experienced only mild symptoms, if any,” although eight of them have been hospitalized, and the state is investigating two possible cases where patients died. Both of those patients were said to be over the age of 80 and had underlying conditions.

The DOH is also emphasizing that despite these cases of breakthrough, it shouldn’t shake the public’s confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine to either prevent infection or reduce the severity of potential symptoms.

Washington solidifies vaccine roadmap ahead of open eligibility on May 1

“It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said in a written release. “People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and co-workers to do the same.”

On Wednesday, vaccine eligibility opened up to another two million Washingtonians, as the state moved into Phase 1B, tiers 3 and 4.

Those tiers include: people 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions; all people 60 years and older; people, staff, and volunteers in certain congregate living settings, like correctional facilities, group homes for people with disabilities, and settings where people experiencing homelessness live or access services; and high-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings, restaurants, food services, construction and manufacturing. Anyone who was eligible in a previous phase or tier remains eligible.

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