Coronavirus: Vaccination status of deaths during Delta outbreak revealed

The Ministry of Health says of the 15 people who have died during this outbreak with COVID-19, just three were fully vaccinated.

There's also been a relatively small number of fully vaccinated people hospitalised with Delta; 22 people with two doses at least 14 days before becoming a case have needed hospital care. That's just 5 percent of the total number of people hospitalised during this outbreak.

It reflects how effective the Pfizer vaccine is in reducing the chance of someone getting severe symptoms from COVID-19.

"There is clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccination greatly reduces the likelihood people will end up in hospital or die from COVID-19," the Ministry of Health says. 

"A British Medical Journal study reported last month, based on research carried out in Scotland, that Pfizer vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing death from COVID-19 – where most infections were caused by the Delta variant."

Of the 15 deaths in New Zealand during this outbreak, 10 were unvaccinated, two had one dose less than 14 days before they contracted COVID-19 and three were fully vaccinated at least two weeks before getting the virus.

Looking at hospitalisations, 263 of 401 people who needed hospital care were unvaccinated, 28 weren't eligible for vaccination as they were younger than 12, 37 had received their first dose less than two weeks before becoming a case and 43 had 1 dose more than two weeks before contracting the illness. Eight hospitalised people had had their second dose within two weeks before getting COVID and 22 were fully immunised. 

Vaccination details of all August 2021 community cluster cases
Vaccination details of all August 2021 community cluster cases Photo credit: Ministry of Health.

The effect of vaccination also bears out in the overall case numbers. Of the 7484 cases, 3231 were unvaccinated, 1685 were ineligible due to age, 543 had one dose only less than 14 days before becoming a case, and 887 had one dose more than two weeks before contracting the virus. There have been 280 fully vaccinated cases where the person got their second dose less than 14 days before being reported as a case and 858 fully immunised people. 

"As our vaccination rates rise, so, somewhat counter-intuitively, will the proportion of cases, hospitalisations and deaths rise amongst those who are fully vaccinated," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday.

"This is just by virtue of the fact that our vaccination rates are so high. Even though the vaccine is more than 95 percent protective against death from COVID-19, it does mean we will still see some fully vaccinated people sadly will die."

While the vaccine provides a great level of security, the vaccinated can still be infected and transmit the virus. However, as is clear from the data above, the chances are much smaller.

District Health Boards across New Zealand continue to target the 90 percent double dose figure. Currently, 84 percent of the country's eligible population are fully vaccinated and 92 percent have had their first dose. Eleven DHBs have hit 90 percent first dose, with Auckland DHB also surpassing 90 percent second dose.

It was announced on Wednesday that 90 percent of New Zealand's Pacific communities have had their first jab.