COVID breakthrough report: Vaccine saves lives in Oregon


Nearly an extra 100 people have died for every 100,000 people that aren't vaccinated

A health worker gives a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a man during a vaccination campaign at a community health center in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Vaccines have helped Oregon fight back against the pandemic, but they aren’t perfect. Breakthrough cases have always been expected, and the latest report from the Oregon Health Authority shows just how many people have been hit with the virus even while vaccinated.

Since vaccines began earlier this year, Oregon has seen 41,257 breakthrough cases. At first glance that seems like a lot, but digging deeper into the numbers shows just how successful the vaccines have been.

Through November 18, OHA said that 2,639,902 residents have reached full vaccination. That means those 41,257 breakthrough cases represents only 1.6% percent of the entire fully vaccinated population. If someone offered you a vaccine that would have 98.43% effective rate for keeping away COVID, how quickly would you say yes?

Deaths from the COVID virus have broken through to vaccinated people as well, but nowhere near to the rate that unvaccinated people are dying.

From March through October, Oregon had 451 breakthrough deaths. That’s compared to 1,935 deaths of the unvaccinated during that same time, and that’s with nearly 1 million less unvaccinated people in Oregon than at full vaccination.

Broken down per capita, since the start of March for every 100,000 fully vaccinated people there were 17.2 deaths. For the unvaccinated that number is 117.1 deaths for every 100,000 people. Nearly an extra 100 people have died for everyone 100,000 people that aren’t vaccinated.

Digging even deeper into the numbers, the concept that people of a younger age don’t need to worry about the virus shows the opposite when vaccines are available. Only two fully vaccinated people in their 30s have died from the virus. It’s 8 deaths for people in their 40s, and 16 for people in their 50s.

That means there have only been 26 breakthrough deaths in people aged 59 and younger.

For adults from 18 to 49 there have been 28.5 deaths for every 100,000 unvaccinated people since just mid-July.

For the vaccinated, the death rate is 0.8 per 100,000 people.

For the unvaccinated it’s been a far grimmer situation. Since mid-July when deaths from just the delta variant began taking hold, there have been 381 deaths of unvaccinated people below the age of 60. That’s 355 more deaths in just one age group because of a lack of vaccination.

For ages 49 and younger the danger in being unvaccinated is even wider. 163 unvaccinated people have died compared to just 10 Oregonians at full vaccination.

To break that down per capita, for adults from 18 to 49 there have been 28.5 deaths for every 100,000 unvaccinated people since just mid-July. For the vaccinated, the death rate is 0.8 per 100,000 people. That means younger unvaccinated adults are dying at a rate nearly 35 times higher than those who are fully vaccinated.

The vaccines are not entirely perfect, nor were they ever thought to be. However the comparison between those who have gotten their shots and those still passing on the chance shows the danger many Oregonians are still choosing to be in.

With kids now eligible for vaccines and booster shots for adults, the path to getting Oregon out of the pandemic is clear: getting everyone at full vaccination.

Justin McWhirter is a KOIN 6 News producer who has tracked COVID data for many months

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