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Breakthrough COVID infections rise, but hospitalization, death rates among fully vaccinated remain low

The Department of Health released new breakthrough figures this week.

Fully vaccinated Minnesotans are experiencing breakthrough COVID-19 infections at a higher rate in recent weeks — but the hospitalization rate has only increased slightly, and the death rate has remained unchanged.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said Monday it has recorded 12,559 breakthrough infections among the state's 3,028,670 who had been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 1.

That puts the infection rate among that group at 0.415%, about one in every 241 people.

Related: All of Minnesota is now a COVID-19 hotspot

That's a jump from state health department figures as of July 11, when there were 5,599 breakthrough infections among 2,948,744 fully vaccinated people — a rate of 0.19%

This increase in breakthrough cases is a trend health officials are seeing nationally. And it's not unexpected.

In early August. MIT Medical said the higher number of vaccinated individuals there are, the higher number of breakthrough infections there will be.

“When a high percentage of people start wearing seatbelts, a higher percentage of motor vehicle fatalities are going to involve people who are wearing seatbelts,” Associate Medical Director Shawn Ferullo said in the update. “But the overall fatality rate drops dramatically. COVID vaccination works the same way.”

That is indeed what Minnesota's numbers are showing as well.

MDH in its Monday update said there have been 810 hospitalizations among fully vaccinated individuals, a rate of 0.027%. As of July 11, it had been 514 hospitalizations for a rate of 0.017%, so there has been a slight increase.

Related: Hundreds have gotten the COVID vaccine — and $100 — at MN State Fair

MDH also notes the hospitalization figures include all patients admitted for any reason within 14 days of a positive COVID test, even if COVID isn't what caused the hospital stay.

The death rate among fully vaccinated individuals hasn't changed, remaining at 0.002% from July 11 (57 deaths) to Aug. 30 (80 deaths). During the period July 11-Aug. 30, there were 184 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota, so vaccinated people comprised 12.5% of that number.

One recent study found an unvaccinated person is about 29 times as likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than a fully vaccinated individual. The unvaccinated are also about five times as likely to become infected, 

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