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New analysis of Hawaii COVID-19 breakthrough infections finds vaccines still protect against severe disease

A new Hawaii Department of Health analysis of breakthrough COVID-19 infections found that the vaccines are proving highly effective at protecting people against hospitalization and death.

Health officials reviewed data on deaths that occurred between Jan. 1, 2021 and Sept. 30 2021 and found that fully vaccinated individuals up to the age of 59 were 34 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than individuals who were unvaccinated, according to a DOH press release. That protection waned with age, but the vaccines still proved to be effective in those ages 60 and older. Among that age group, vaccinated individuals were nine times less likely to die of COVID-19 than those who were unvaccinated.

The analysis also looked at the effect the delta variant had on the effectiveness of vaccines and found that while there was an increase in the frequency of vaccinated people being hospitalized and dying, those incidents remained “relatively uncommon,” according to DOH.

During the period of time reviewed, DOH found 36 deaths among fully vaccinated individuals in Hawaii and 146 hospitalizations. The great majority of hospitalizations and deaths during that time period occurred among 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 in a press release. “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.”

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