They’re called breakthrough cases: vaccinated individuals getting COVID-19. And it’s happening right here in Connecticut.
There are more than 7,000 breakthrough cases and 53 deaths.
“When the vaccines were first rolled out, the push was just roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated and it will protect you," Anthony Santella, professor of public health administration at the University of New Haven, said.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
“They’re not a magic shield that’s going to prevent every single infection,” he said.
According to state data, 7,121 vaccinated individuals have contracted COVID-19 and 53 have died. The vaccinated deaths represent 5.8% of all COVID-19 deaths since February.
“The COVID deaths among people who are fully vaccinated is by far being driven by the over 75 population,” Santella said.
State officials reported that 38 of the 53 deaths were individuals over the age of 75.
“I’ll take COVID any day being a person who is fully vaccinated because I know my outcomes are more likely to be much more successful than an unvaccinated person,” Santella said.
“This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he added.
The new data this week from the state shows that unvaccinated individuals are five times more likely to be infected than those who are vaccinated. The data also shows that the risk of being hospitalized for those who are unvaccinated is 16 times higher.
“The majority of people who are in the ICU or in critical care or on the ventilator or unfortunately have passed are unvaccinated,” Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist at Hartford Healthcare, said.
Wu said the purpose of the vaccine was to modify the course of the virus.
“To take a potentially deadly disease and turn it into something that is mild,” Wu added.
He said there are still five things people need to do to stay safe.
“There are five layers of protection that we use to protect ourselves from COVID. Number one and the most important is vaccination,” he said.
Wu said masking, social distancing and hand washing are still important. But he’s begging people to avoid risky behaviors.
“Don’t go to an indoor dinner with 50 people with poor air circulation where you don’t know whether they’re vaccinated or not,” Wu said.
“If you put yourself in risky situations, your chances are that you may get infected,” he added.