In 2021, vaccinations against Covid were all the rage across the country. That year, Alaskans were pressured to get fully vaccinated, but the number of breakthrough vaccine cases kept rising. In fact, the higher the vaccination rate, the higher the rate of the Covid virus finding a way around the vaccine to infect people.
According to the latest report from the Department of Health and Human Services, 58,531 cases of Covid-19 were documented among Alaska residents in January 2022. This was the highest infection rate to date in state, since the virus arrived in March 2020, and the Omicron variant was to blame.
Of these, 30,668 involved people who had been vaccinated. An additional 7,234 cases occurred among Alaska residents considered partially vaccinated.
In January, more than 57% of Alaskans were vaccinated against Covid, and more than 52% of breakthrough cases were among those vaccinated. DHSS reports are published monthly, but are usually off by three months.
Covid-19 vaccines were administered on a very limited basis in Alaska in mid-December 2020. Most healthcare workers and first responders were cleared to receive the vaccine. Next come the elderly and medically fragile. In March 2021, everyone over the age of 16 who lived or worked in Alaska became eligible for vaccination, and it was widely available. After the authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for young people over the age of 12, eligibility was expanded in May 2021. In November 2021, vaccination was authorized for children aged 5 to 11 years. Also in 2021, booster shots were recommended and available. by September for those previously considered fully vaccinated.
The department says a previous infection provides some protection for about six months.
“Although SARS-CoV-2 reinfections are known, they can be difficult to diagnose due to the lack of a widely accepted definition. Observational studies have shown that prior infection with SARS-CoV-2 confers substantial partial protection against reinfection with Delta and prior circulating variants for at least 6 months. The extent to which prior infection confers protection against infection with the Omicron variant is still under investigation. There is evidence that even in people with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccination provides an additional layer of protection,” the state Department of Health and Human Services noted in its report. .
In most cases, people who had breakthroughs had no symptoms or had mild symptoms like sniffles and sore throat, and their illness was of shorter duration. Vaccination, while not providing complete protection against the virus, may have reduced severity for those who were exposed.
By comparison, in Oregon during the week of Jan. 2-8, the state reported 45,334 cases of Covid-19. Some 33,363 of them (73.6%) were among the unvaccinated and 11,971 (26.4%) were breakthrough cases.