In just a few short months, the U.S. has already seen many real-life effects of widespread COVID-19 vaccinations. Virus deaths in nursing homes have dropped dramatically, infections among older Americas have plummeted and the total death rate has fallen from where it was in the winter.
Those statistics gave scientists a pretty good idea that COVID-19 vaccines were working as they should. But results from a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given further proof of vaccine effectiveness.
In the first four months that COVID-19 vaccines have been available — between Dec. 14 and April 13 — more than 75 million people in the U.S. were fully vaccinated against the virus. Of those who were fully vaccinated, just under 6,000 later became infected with COVID-19.
Those statistics mean that the “breakthrough rate” of COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated people in the U.S. is a measly 0.008%.
The CDC further reports that only about 400 of those who suffered a breakthrough infection were sent to the hospital, and 130 of those who were hospitalized were “asymptomatic or hospitalized for a reason not related to COVID-19.”
A total of 74 people have died after suffering a COVID-19 breakthrough infection — meaning less than one out of every 1 million people who were vaccinated later died after contracting COVID-19. Of those deaths, nine were "reported as asymptomatic or the patient died due to a cause not related to COVID-19."
The CDC study is consistent with the findings published by drug companies during their trials last year — that the vaccines are safe and highly effective.
“To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in the case demographics or vaccine characteristics among people with reported vaccine breakthrough infections,” the CDC said in its findings.
On Monday, vaccine eligibility in the U.S. was opened to anyone over the age of 16. The CDC urges anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. They also recommend that those who are fully vaccinated — defined as two weeks out from their final dose — continue to take precautionary steps like social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding crowds.
Editor's note: Due to a math error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the breakthrough percentage was 0.00008%.