WASHINGTON — During the global pandemic, the Verify team knows people are hungry for information about COVID-19 to keep themselves and their families safe.
As of May 25, 39.2% of Americans, or nearly two-fifths, are fully vaccinated (2 or more weeks post final dose), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 50% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But, even with both vaccines and waiting 14 days, the CDC warns you aren't invincible.
"Some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick because no vaccine is 100% effective," the agency writes.
That message has rung loud and clear for some people, who want to know just how many people have gotten sick post-vaccination.
Verify viewer Monica emailed the Verify team asking: "I want to find out how many people have contracted COVID-19 after being vaccinated and what is the severity of illness.”
How many people have contracted COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, and how sick were they?
According to preliminary data from the CDC, between January 1 and April 30 they received 10,262 reports of post-vaccination infection, with varying severity from asymptomatic to death.
Between January 1 and May 17, 1,811 people have been hospitalized and 353 have died.
WHAT WE FOUND
Our researchers turned to the CDC, which has been studying this exact phenomenon, what they call, "breakthrough infections” or "breakthrough cases."
According to a CDC report, between January 1 and April 30, 10,262 COVID-19 breakthrough infections were reported.
That included 2,725 people who were asymptomatic and 6,382 people who were symptomatic, but not hospitalized.
As for patients who had a severe infection, 995 patients were hospitalized and 160 patients between the ages of 71-89 died. The CDC notes that 28 of those who died were either asymptomatic or died from an unrelated cause.
The CDC noted that it's difficult to gauge an exact number of breakthrough infections.
"The number of reported COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases is likely a substantial undercount of all SARS-CoV-2 infections among fully vaccinated persons," the CDC said. "The national surveillance system relies on passive and voluntary reporting, and data might not be complete or representative. Many persons with vaccine breakthrough infections, especially those who are asymptomatic or who experience mild illness, might not seek testing."
Still, based on the preliminary data, the percentage of people who caught COVID after full vaccination is very small.
As of April 30th, about 101 million people were fully vaccinated; that means 0.01% of people got COVID after being fully vaccinated.
On May 1 the CDC updated its protocol and is now only keeping track of breakthrough cases that result in hospitalization or death. That means they will not report updated numbers of asymptomatic or less severe cases in the future.
"These vaccines were studied to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and as we look at these breakthrough infections, those are the ones we're most concerned about," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response press briefing. "Before we started only studying breakthrough infections in the hospitalized patients, we were studying all breakthrough infections. What we were starting to find is that many, most, or I should say a large major-, a large portion of them were fully asymptomatic. And in fact, when we went to study them and even sequence them, there was inadequate virus to even do so."
As of May 17, 1,811 people who had been fully vaccinated were hospitalized, 353 patients died, according to the CDC.
That's still a minuscule percentage of the total population vaccinated. Which all in all, means the vaccines are working.