LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health released a report on Pennsylvania’s post-vaccination COVID-19 case data, otherwise known as “breakthrough cases.”

The online report shows that since January 2021, 97% of COVID-19 related deaths were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Out of the 6,472 COVID-19 related deaths identified in 2021, 213, or 3%, were post-vaccination deaths.

Plus, 95% of reported hospitalizations with COVID-19 as primary diagnosis of admission were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals. For reported COVID-19 cases, 94% were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people.

Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam spoke Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. alongside Chief Clinical Officer for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Dr. Michael Ripchinski, to discuss what hospitals are currently experiencing as Pennsylvania’s daily COVID cases exceed 4,000 statewide.

“With nearly seven million Pennsylvanians fully vaccinated, the data makes it clear: the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines ‘breakthrough’ cases as individuals who are fully vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 more than 14 days after they completed their full one or two-dose vaccination series.

“The overwhelming majority of the COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Pennsylvania occurred in people who were not vaccinated,” Beam said. “In fact, the data shows that compared to unvaccinated people, fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are seven times less likely to get COVID-19, and eight times less likely to die from COVID-19.”

Health experts have relentlessy warned that the vast majority of hospitalizations and cases are still among the unvaccinated. Recently shared data from WellSpan Health indicated that 92% of all COVID-19 patients in its hospitals are unvaccinated.

“While masking and social distancing will help to reduce the risk of becoming infected and transmitting COVID-19, vaccines are the most effective way to protect those who are vulnerable, including the immunocompromised, and our children who are too young to get the vaccine,” Dr. Ripchinski said.

In response to the resurgence in cases, Governor Tom Wolf announced the addition of five new COVID-19 vaccine clinics at various state parks across the Commonwealth.

“Pennsylvanians understand that the best way to fight this virus is through vaccinations and the president’s announcement will further increase our vaccination rates and keep everyone safe,” Wolf said.

According to the governor, two-thirds of Pennsylvanians ages 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Pennsylvania currently ranks fifth in the nation for total doses administered, but, COVID-19 cases in Pa. continue to surge.

“Over the past several weeks, we have seen as much as 19 times more non-vaccinated patients ages 50 and younger admitted to UPMC hospitals compared to vaccinated patients,” Dr. Donald Yealy, chief medical officer at UPMC, said. “Vaccination is crucial at this time. Our urgent plea is for everyone eligible for a vaccine to get one.”

Penn State Health reports that 92 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sept. 14 with 27 individuals in the ICU.

“Penn State Health is seeing some breakthrough COVID-19 cases but they are typically patients hospitalized for something else who test positive when they come in for treatment,” Dr. Fahad Khalid, chief of hospital medicine at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said. “Vaccinated patients typically don’t develop severe COVID-19 or need intensive care.

For more information on the post-vaccination data, visit the Department of Health’s website by clicking here.

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