Dr. Danielle Scheurer of MUSC Health gets the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine | Photo via MUSC Health by Sarah Pack

A new analysis from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) found that 77% of the 550 reported people hospitalized with COVID-19, and 79% of reported deaths, were those who were not fully vaccinated.

“It is important to note that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among fully vaccinated residents are still rare,” public health director Dr. Brannon Traxler said in a press release. “And in most situations of breakthrough cases, the person has no symptoms or very mild ones that clear up in a matter of days.”

DHEC reported 26,848 cases in the month of July, and among the 14,262 cases where vaccination status was able to be determined, 88% were those were not fully vaccinated.

“Data still shows that vaccinations can end this pandemic if enough people are willing to roll up their sleeves,” Traxler said. “We are at the most crucial point yet in our fight against COVID-19. Our children are going back to school and more people are visiting businesses and attending large-scale events.”

Breakthrough cases are expected with any type of vaccine, according to a press release from DHEC. The primary goal of vaccination is not prevention of infection, but of severe illness in the case of infection. This analysis was done after similar data was examined for the month of June, revealing more than 90% of COVID-19 cases and deeaths and 86% of hospitalizations were among those not fully vaccinated.

“Obviously, we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for the month of July,” Traxler said. “The rise of highly transmissible variants like Delta and lagging vaccination rates have led to increases in these categories overall, including breakthrough cases.”

People who receive the vaccine are considered fully vaccinated 14 days or more after getting their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

DHEC is now tracking breakthrough cases on its website.