COVID-19 Breakthrough Infections Remain Low in Southern Tier

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the Southern Tier, the New York State Department of Health is working to track breakthrough infections.

Breakthrough cases, as well as the estimated effectiveness of COVID vaccines, are now available on the New York State Department of Health (DOH) website.

Data shows that the majority of cases across New York — over 99-percent — come from the unvaccinated. Exactly 0.8-percent of COVID cases are made up of individuals who are either partially or fully vaccinated.

“Every single study has shown your chance of ending up being very sick or in the hospital is 20 times less [if you’re vaccinated],” Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Dr. Richard Terry said. “The vaccine offers that protection.”

Dr. Terry said that protection is against hospitalization, death and, for the most part, breakthrough infections. They remain extremely rare.

Not every county in the Southern Tier has data out on breakthrough cases, though the ones that do show over 98-percent of infections are from individuals who are unvaccinated. According to Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith, 1.8-percent of cases are classified as breakthroughs.

 “Scientists said in the beginning that they would expect some breakthrough cases, just like with the flu vaccine,” Smith said. “Individuals can be vaccinated and still end up getting the flu.”

Health experts say part of the reason for the breakthrough infections may be a result of the Delta variant and the COVID vaccine’s efficacy waning over time.

“It’s not as effective as preventing any infection after six months, however, it maintains its ability to prevent hospitalization and death,” Dr. Terry said. “And most of these cases are mild when they get them, many are asymptomatic and patients tend to recover relatively rapidly.”

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