It's been well over 800 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota on March 5, 2020, since when the virus has undergone an evolution that has led to the "hyper-contagious" omicron lineage.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Dec. 19, 2021 marked the beginning of the omicron period in Minnesota. Now, for the first time, the state is releasing detailed information about breakthrough cases involving children ages 5-11. Previously, such data was only available about Minnesotans 12 and older.
What's more is that the new data includes an omicron-specific view, from Dec. 19, 2021 until present day. In a nutshell, it shows that children remain highly unlikely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, though older Minnesotans who are not up to date with their vaccine doses remain highly vulnerable.
Taking a look at the numbers
From the beginning of the omicron period, kids 5-11 have been 1.8 times more likely to be hospitalized if they are not fully vaccinated.
Only 1.6 unvaccinated kids per 100,000 have wound up hospitalized, but this is twice the rate of vaccinated according to the data.
The hospitalization rate has been lower in the past 60 days, with fewer than 1 in 100,000 unvaccinated kids aged 5-11 in Minnesota hospitalized, while just 0.3 children per 100,000 fully vaccinated have been hospitalized.
The current caveat is that health officials are hopeful but not certain the newest omicron subvariants – BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 – won't lead to higher hospitalization rates. All three of the newest omicron relatives have been confirmed in Minnesota.
The impact of omicron on Minnesota becomes starker when looking at the statistics for Minnesotans aged 65 and older.
That segment of the population that isn't fully vaccinated have been 12.7 times more likely to wind up hospitalized than those who are boosted during the omicron period, and 2.8 times more likely to hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated, but not boosted.
"What we're still seeing overall is that benefit and that protection for severe outcomes. We're continuing to make sure we stress for people that COVID is still there, so being up to date on your vaccines is still important," an MDH spokesperson told Bring Me The News on Monday.