Why are breakthrough COVID-19 cases on the rise?

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has released its weekly report on COVID-19 infections among vaccinated people.

From December 25 through January 1, there were just over 45,000 COVID-19 infections confirmed in people considered fully-vaccinated by the state.

It is important to note, that definition does not include a booster shot. Less than 1 percent of those 45,000 breakthrough infections were hospitalized and one-tenth of 1 percent resulted in death. In general only 3.5 percent of fully vaccinated people in the state have gotten a breakthrough case.

“Who’s getting hospitalized with severe disease? The majority of them, more than 75 percent of them, are unvaccinated individuals,” said Dr. Syed Hussain of Trinity Health Ne England.

Why has that number been rising recently? There are a couple of reasons.

The highly contagious omicron variant is more likely to infect people, and its surge coincided with the holiday travel season and relaxations of restrictions during the summer and fall of 2021. Waning immunity has left even fully vaccinated people more susceptible to the virus hence the importance of the booster.

Now, if you do get infected with omicron, the COVID-19 vaccines are designed to prevent severe illness. Even though the shots won’t always keep you from catching the virus, they’ll make it much more likely for you stay alive and out of the hospital.

Massachusetts’ positivity rate is also reaching record highs. On December 1, 2021, the state’s seven-day positivity rate was 5.1 percent. On December 28, it jumped to a record high of 11 percent. As of Wednesday, it is at 22.06 percent, that’s the highest it’s been since April 24, 2020.

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