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Vast majority of Oregon COVID-19 deaths are among unvaccinated

Is the vaccination status of those who die with COVID-19 available? Is OHA going to start reporting the vaccination status of those who die, especially as we get further along into the period where everyone 16 and older has been eligible for a vaccine?

― Elizabeth, Medford

Don’t expect to start seeing the vaccination status of those who die after testing positive for COVID-19. The state reports the gender of people who die, their county of residence, where they died and whether they had underlying conditions.

“We have no plans to include vaccination status in our death reporting,” said Rudy Owens, public affairs specialist with the Oregon Health Authority.

However, OHA is reporting breakthrough cases and deaths for fully vaccinated people, he noted.

Vaccine breakthrough cases are defined as instances in which an individual received a positive COVID-19 test result at least 14 days after the completion of any COVID-19 vaccine series.

Eight people had tested positive for COVID-19 and died after being fully vaccinated. All of those who died were between 70-96 years old, according to the latest OHA COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases Report that tracked cases through May 3.

In other words, the vast majority of deaths you are seeing reported in the news these days are happening among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.

The eight breakthrough deaths represented a small portion of the more than 1.3 million people who had completed their vaccine series at the time of the report, OHA said.

While the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness and death, no vaccine is 100% effective, and vaccine breakthrough cases will occur, OHA said.

OHA reported 611 breakthrough cases of people testing positive for the virus after being fully vaccinated. Of those, eight died and 45 were hospitalized. About half of the 611 people reported no symptoms.

OHA said breakthrough cases had been reported in 32 of the state’s 36 counties as of May 3. OHA said it is not reporting the regions or counties where the breakthrough deaths occurred.

In Oregon, people 16 and older became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination April 19. Children as young as 12 became eligible this month.

Free vaccinations are available without having to show insurance information or identification at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, near Central Point.

The drive-thru Pfizer vaccination site at The Expo for people 12 and older operates seven days a week from noon until 7 p.m., except Wednesdays and Thursdays, when it operates from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The walk-thru Moderna vaccination site for those 18 and older is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon, then from 1-6 p.m.

People who wish to make an appointment or get more information can visit jacksoncounty.org/GetVaccinated or call 211. Appointments are encouraged but not required.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.