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Age and underlying health conditions that weaken immune systems strongly correlate with "breakthrough" COVID-19 cases, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data show.

DHSS is adding breakthrough data to its statewide COVID-19 dashboard, which can be found on its website.

Breakthrough cases are those that occur in somebody who has completed the vaccination regimen for a disease (such as COVID-19). A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the series of vaccinations is completed.

The data show as of Thursday, 3,099,103 Missourians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of those, 54,285 (2 percent) developed breakthrough cases.

Additionally, the data show 375,796 Missourians who were partially vaccinated (or developed COVID-19 within two weeks of completing the vaccination) came down with COVID-19.

Only 654 (.02 percent of) fully vaccinated Missourians have died from COVID-19.

And 6,230 Missourians who had started vaccinations (or who developed COVID-19 within two weeks of completing the vaccination protocol) have died from the disease.

DHSS and the Missouri Hospital Association's Hospital Industry Data Institute have partnered to analyze COVID-19 data — cross-referencing the institute's individual patient hospital records with DHSS vaccination status information.

The data reaffirms how well vaccinations work to prevent hospitalizations and deaths, DHSS Director Donald Kauerauf said in a news release.

"The vaccines continue to be an effective tool to protect Missourians from serious illness," Kauerauf said.

The data also highlight the importance of receiving boosters when eligible, especially for those of high-risk due to age, or underlying health concerns (who may not have strong immune systems).

The data affirm hospitalizations are extremely rare for people who have completed vaccination protocols, MHA president Jon Doolittle said. Deaths are more rare, he said. Breakthrough cases resulting in death have occurred, in large part, in elderly patients and those with compromised health.

For example, the average age of patients who have died because of breakthrough cases is 77. Eighty-eight percent of those patients also had underlying health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, ischemic heart disease (heart disease caused by narrowed heart arteries), heart failure, cardiopulmonary disease or others. Many had multiple conditions (known as comorbidity).

Chronic kidney disease was present in nearly 57 percent of Missouri breakthrough cases resulting in death.

DHSS also added data concerning reinfections to the dashboard. Reinfections occur when someone has tested positive for the virus, recovered, then tested positive again after 90 days or more.

Prior to the update, each case on the dashboard represented an individual Missourian. Now the data will include total individual infections. More than 6,300 Missourians had confirmed reinfections.

DHSS has added "probable deaths" to the dashboard. These represent people who were positive by antigen testing (tests commonly used to detect respiratory pathogens) and were determined to be a COVID-19 death or who were identified through the vital records death certificate with no associated positive laboratory test.

Data provides strong evidence the delta variant of the virus has broken through more than earlier variants, MHA spokesman Dave Dillon said.

There is evidence the variant is more severe than earlier versions.

"We also have evidence of the durability of the vaccination," Dillon said. "It is probably shorter than we had hoped for."

Communities are beginning to deal with questions concerning the long-term durability of the vaccine, he added. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that those people who are eligible for booster shots receive them.

It is likely, Dillon said, boosters will be recommended for everyone in the population.

"One would hope that if we continue progress, we could hold this (pandemic) in check," Dillon said. "We're not there. And it looks like in the days ahead, we will have boosters and third doses available for all Missourians."

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