LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Eighty-seven people have received a coronavirus vaccine and later died from COVID-19 in Clark County, new data from the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) shows, but a change in how the agency reports those cases makes it appear there were many new deaths over the past week.
What appears to be 38 new breakthrough deaths between Aug. 11 and Aug. 19 is not what is seems, SNHD officials told the I-Team.
“It is important to keep in mind that the daily and weekly numbers that are reported must be viewed in context,” a spokeswoman said. “This information is not always a reflection of the cases or deaths that occurred during that period, but of the cases and deaths that were reported during that period.”
Since the vaccines were first administered in December, 6,309 breakthrough cases have been reported to SNHD. Eighty-seven of those people have died.
Kristen Kloth, 45, is a breakthrough survivor.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to help us get moving around here,” Kloth said about why she wanted to get vaccinated last week.
But in June, Kloth started to feel ill.
“And I thought to myself, ‘Can’t be. Can’t be COVID,’” she said.
It was COVID. Thankfully, her symptoms were mild. She spiked a fever and quarantined.
Breakthrough cases among the vaccinated remain rare. They represent 0.6% among the vaccinated population in Clark County, SNHD reports.
Nevada reported 22 additional COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday with 19 from Clark County. Southern Nevada now accounts for 5,127 of the state’s 6,398 deaths. The 14-day rolling average is 13 deaths per day.
To put that into perspective, Clark County has reported a total of 301,011 cases. The latest county update estimates a total of 282,614 recovered cases; that’s 93.9% of all reported cases in the county, according to SNHD’s latest report.
According to the CDC, unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than the vaccinated. The unvaccinated are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than the vaccinated, the CDC reports. The agency released the new data, which was part of a study in Los Angeles County, on Tuesday.
An Israeli study about breakthrough infections widely circulated online shows the vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe infection and hospitalization.
Dr. Cassius Lockett, SNHD’s director of disease surveillance and control, said the district is seeing an uptick in breakthrough cases due to the Delta variant, but he stressed the data continues to show vaccines are working and prevent hospitalization and death.
The vaccines were developed to prevent earlier coronavirus strains, meaning the Delta variant, which is the predominant strain circulating in the United States, was not around yet.
“I still think that even though I still got sick, I would have been a lot sick than I was had I not been vaccinated,” Kloth said.
Nearly three-fourths of breakthrough hospitalizations in Clark County are people 65 and older. More than 1.3 million people in the county have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
With those numbers, the odds of being vaccinated and dying from COVID-19 are 1 in about 15,400.
Lockett stressed masking, washing hands and social distancing remain key parts in the battle against the virus.