A Sept. 16, 2021 graph from the Oregon Health Authority shows the rate of new Covid infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated Oregonians.

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The number of Oregonians diagnosed with Covid shot up significantly in July and August - including the number of breakthrough cases in people fully vaccinated against the disease.

But vaccinated Oregonians remain far less likely to contract Covid at all, and to be hospitalized or die when they do, reports from the Oregon Health Authority show.

Local and state health officials say vaccination remains the best way to prevent infection and serious illness from Covid.

Oregon has recorded a total of 19,549 breakthrough cases among the 2.5 million Oregonians who have been fully vaccinated against Covid, according to a Sept. 16 report.

The state publishes weekly data about Covid cases among people fully vaccinated against the disease. Here are a few takeaways.

Unvaccinated Oregonians account for about 80% of Covid cases in recent weeks

Oregon recorded relatively few breakthrough cases of Covid until July, when the Delta variant became predominant and the number of reported cases started to spike.

For the past eight weeks, OHA data shows fully vaccinated Oregonians make up between 18 and 20% of new Covid infections. The remainder are among people who are either not vaccinated or have not completed their vaccination series.

About 2,600 vaccinated Oregonians and 11,400 unvaccinated Oregonians were diagnosed with Covid the week of Sept. 11, according to the state’s most recent report.

The vast majority of Oregonians are vaccinated against Covid, and the data shows unvaccinated Oregonians are far more likely to get sick. OHA said the rate of new cases was five times higher in unvaccinated Oregonians than vaccinated Oregonians.

As of Tuesday, 74% of Oregon adults and 63% of all Oregonians are vaccinated against Covid.

About 1% of vaccinated Marion County residents have contracted Covid

As of Sept. 16, Marion County has recorded 2,027 total breakthrough cases among over 185,000 county residents vaccinated against Covid. That means about 1% of vaccinated county residents have contracted Covid.

Polk County has 423 total breakthrough cases and 47,323 county residents vaccinated against Covid, meaning about 0.9% of vaccinated residents have contracted the disease.

Breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths are rare, and mostly in older Oregonians

Statewide, 915 Oregonians who contracted a breakthrough case of Covid were hospitalized, and 172 have died. That’s a death rate of about 0.9%.

More than half the breakthrough deaths reported, 93 in total, were in Oregonians over age 80. Another 71 were in Oregonians between 60 and 79.

A Sept. 16, 2021 graph from the Oregon Health Authority shows trends in Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths among fully vaccinated Oregonians.

The median age of fully vaccinated Oregonians who have died from Covid is 81, OHA said, with the youngest at 43 and the oldest 101.

Elderly Oregonians have consistently had the highest death rate from Covid since the pandemic began. State data shows 17% of Oregonians 80 or older diagnosed with Covid since the pandemic began did not survive their illness.

By comparison, Oregon has recorded 1,441 breakthrough Covid cases among fully vaccinated people 80 and older. With 93 breakthrough deaths, that’s a death rate of 6.4%.

The state has not published data on hospitalization or death rates for unvaccinated Oregonians, but intends to begin doing so soon, said Robb Cowie, communications director for OHA.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel on Friday recommended booster doses of Covid vaccine for people 65 and older and those at risk of serious illness from Covid, six months after receiving a second dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce new policy based on that recommendation later this week.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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