Among the more than 1 million Washingtonians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 102 people have tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after their vaccinations, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.
Those cases include eight people who have been hospitalized. Two deaths are also being investigated as possible "vaccine breakthrough" cases, the department said.
The vaccine breakthrough cases, which the department says are expected with any vaccine, represent .01% of the people who have been fully vaccinated and were tallied since Feb. 1, says a DOH news release issued Tuesday.
Clinical trials have shown COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus by up to 95%, but a small percentage of fully vaccinated people can still be expected to get it, the release says.
Breakthrough cases have been identified in 18 counties. Most of the people with confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced only mild symptoms, if any, according to DOH. The two patients who died were both older than 80 and had underlying heath conditions.
The health department says more investigation is needed to determine if virus variants caused the breakthrough infections.
"It is important to remember that every vaccine on the market right now prevents severe disease and death in most cases," said the state's Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah. "People should still get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and co-workers to do the same."
Shah encouraged people to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing and wash hands regularly to prevent spreading COVID-19.
Samaritan Healthcare, in Moses Lake, reported two breakthrough cases earlier this month. In King County, five people are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus after reporting they had been fully vaccinated.