KEARNEY – A Phelps County woman in her 80s who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has died of the virus, Two Rivers Public Health Department said Wednesday.
She became ill with COVID after receiving both shots of the Pfizer vaccine, Two Rivers and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said. She had underlying medical conditions.
“While we know no vaccine can prevent 100% of illness, the vaccine still represents the best protection against the virus, and the vaccination process is still leading our state in returning to normal,” Jeremy Eschliman, Two Rivers health director, said.
This woman is the only one of the 2,245 people who have died from COVID-19 in Nebraska in the past 14 months who had been fully vaccinated. This represents 0.0004 or 0.04% of all COVID-19 deaths.
At the same time, weekly deaths due to COVID-19 are be the lowest since record-keeping began on March 20, 2020, and vaccines have likely played a primary role in the steep decline, Two Rivers said.
Cases of COVID-19 have also declined substantially in long-term care facilities and across the state since vaccinations became available, but a small number of elderly and immunosuppressed patients may not mount a strong immune response.
Vaccine breakthrough cases occur in only a tiny percentage of vaccinated persons, DHHS said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said no unexpected patterns have been identified in the case demographics or vaccine characteristics among people with reported vaccine breakthrough infections. Among the 95 million people in the United States who have been fully vaccinated, only 112 deaths due to COVID-19 have been identified.
“While no deaths occurred in vaccinated individuals in the clinical trials, we understand that no vaccine or medication is 100% effective when used by millions of people,” Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone said.
“This does not negate the importance of vaccination. Our state is approaching 50% of the total population being fully vaccinated, and we need to keep that momentum. All Nebraskans who can get vaccinated should do so as soon as possible,” he added.