A line of people wait to enter the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on April 7, 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

The millions of Americans who have yet to get a COVID vaccine offer numerous reasons for delaying or refusing the inoculation. A recent reason given is that they believe the vaccines are ineffective, because some Americans who have received the shots still contracted COVID-19.

A closer look at the numbers shows that while breakthrough infections do happen, they are rare. Rarer still are hospitalizations, ICU stays and death from COVID-19 in vaccinated Americans.

With new cases of COVID on the rise across the country — and skyrocketing in some states with low vaccination rates — it is important to know that getting one of the three COVID inoculations approved for emergency use in the U.S. is the best way to dramatically reduce the chances of contracting COVID and, especially, from becoming seriously ill or dying from the illness.

According to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundat ion released in late July, about 98 percent of confirmed cases of COVID since January were in unvaccinated people. Twenty-five states, including Maine, consistently report data on breakthrough cases. Among these states, breakthrough cases ranged from 6 percent of total COVID cases in Arizona to 0.15 percent in Connecticut. Cases of COVID in vaccinated Mainers accounted for just 1.3 percent of the state’s total cases this year.

Among people who were hospitalized for COVID, those who were vaccinated accounted for a high of 6 percent of the total in Alaska to a low of 0.1 percent in New Jersey. Maine’s numbers were not included in this calculation in the KFF analysis.

In every state in the analysis, 97 percent or more of COVID deaths were among the unvaccinated.

Nationwide, more than 99.99 percent of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even in recent instances where there were relatively large COVID outbreaks, such as in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, there were very few hospitalizations and no deaths, which health officials attribute to the high rate of vaccination among attendees.

In Maine, new COVID cases have been on the rise since early July and masks are now recommended indoors in public in every county except Kennebec because of high or substantial community spread of the virus.

The number of breakthrough cases is also on the rise as more Mainers get vaccinated. Yet, cases of COVID remain unusual for those who are vaccinated, according to BDN reporter Jessica Piper, who has been analyzing the state’s data. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 712 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maine among fully vaccinated people, out of a group of roughly 850,000 fully vaccinated people. This puts the chances of a fully vaccinated person testing positive for COVID at around 1 in 1,200.

At the same time, 36,785 Mainers have tested positive since late January, when the first people here were vaccinated. That is out of a pool of more than 1.3 million people who were unvaccinated at some point this spring, which means an individual’s probability of testing positive while not fully vaccinated in Maine this year is something closer to 1 in 36, the BDN reported Wednesday.

The rate of hospitalization for COVID is substantially lower among those who have been vaccinated. Since the first vaccines became available here earlier this year, 816 Mainers have been hospitalized with COVID. Only 32 of them were vaccinated, according to Maine CDC data. Since vaccines have been available, there have been 234 COVID-associated deaths; 14 of those were among individuals who were vaccinated. Most of those individuals were hospitalized for other reasons when they were diagnosed with COVID, according to the Maine CDC.

The conclusion is simple even as the current circumstances seem complicated: vaccines work. They are not perfect and some vaccinated people are getting COVID. When they do, it is almost always a mild case, which rarely leads to hospitalization and almost never results in death.

So, to protect yourself, your family, friends and co-workers, make an appointment to get vaccinated.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...