A Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) analysis of vaccine breakthrough data found COVID-19 vaccines provide excellent protection against hospitalization and death.
A vaccine breakthrough infection occurs when a fully vaccinated person tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing their initial vaccine series.
Hawaiʻi data on deaths that occurred from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 found that fully vaccinated people age 0-59 were 34 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals. Fully vaccinated people age 60 and older were nine times less likely to die of COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals.
“Vaccines work. More than one million Hawaiʻi residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are well-protected against hospitalization and death,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “Breakthrough infections are expected because no vaccine is 100% effective, but this new data mirrors national studies that show vaccinated people are well-protected against COVID-19. DOH encourages all Hawaiʻi residents five and older to protect themselves and their families through vaccination.”
In the January through September time period, DOH documented 36 deaths among fully vaccinated people in Hawaiʻi and 146 hospitalizations. The overwhelming majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths reported in the same period occurred among unvaccinated individuals.
The analysis also examined the effect of the Delta variant on vaccine efficacy. While the frequency of breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths increased during the Delta variant period, breakthrough events remained relatively uncommon compared to the total number of hospitalizations and deaths. Data indicates the COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide excellent protection against severe disease and death.