Out of 800,000 fully vaccinated people in Minnesota, only 89 tested positive for COVID-19

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Out of 800,000 fully vaccinated people in Minnesota, only 89 tested positive for COVID-19
Registered Nurse Robert Orallo administers the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021.FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
  • In Minnesota, 89 fully vaccinated people have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • That's a very small portion of the 800,000 Minnesotans who have gotten all of their shots.
  • Even vaccinated people who get COVID-19 likely have some protection from severe illness.

Health officials across the US have been reporting some cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated people, but it's not a reason for concern.

Most recently, the Minnesota Department of Health identified 89 "breakthrough" infections in people who got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

More than 800,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Minnesota to date, putting the breakthrough rate at around 0.01%.

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"That's well below one tenth of one percent - an incredibly small number of cases that dramatically illustrates how effective these vaccines are," state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said in a briefing Wednesday.

Fully vaccinated people are less likely to get severe COVID-19

Although a small number of fully vaccinated people do get infected with COVID-19, they're likely to have milder cases than they would've had they not gotten the vaccine.

In clinical trials, the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines were 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

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Some breakthrough cases in Minnesota required hospitalization, but their outcomes were better overall, Andrew Olson, director of hospital medicine at M Health Fairview, told AP News.

None of the 89 fully vaccinated Minnesotans who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, Ehersmann said in the briefing Wednesday.

"It's important to know that even if someone is vaccinated and then goes on to be one of the few unfortunate people to develop a breakthrough case, there still can be some level of protection provided by the vaccine," she said.

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When we reach herd immunity, breakthrough cases will be even less common

Breakthrough cases are not a reason to doubt vaccine effectiveness, Ehersmann said in the briefing. Health officials weren't shocked that some vaccinated people tested positive for COVID-19; in fact, they were pleasantly surprised that the case rate for that group was so low.

Even if a small number of vaccinated people do get sick, their vaccinations bring the country closer to reaching the herd immunity threshold, where the people immune to the coronavirus will outnumber those who are not protected.

"At that point, the virus will not be able to find the small number of people who remain susceptible, either because they didn't get vaccinated or because they didn't have a strong enough immune response to the vaccine," Ehersmann said.

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