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Oregon Health Authority says 168 vaccinated Oregonians have tested positive for the virus, including three who died.

PMG FILE PHOTO - More than 1.4 million Oregonians have been vaccinated at least once for the novel coronavirus as of mid-April. A small number of vaccinated Oregonians have nevertheless tested positive for the novel coronavirus — and three of them died, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

OHA reports that 168 vaccinated individuals across 25 Oregon counties have received a positive COVID-19 test result at least 14 days after receiving their final dose of the vaccine.

Such "breakthrough cases," as the phenomenon is officially termed, are not unexpected, and can be prevented through simple steps such as masking up and physical distancing while in public, as well as avoiding social gatherings.

"It's a reminder that while the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are all highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness and death, no vaccine is 100% effective, and vaccine breakthrough cases will occur," according to a news release.

Officials say around 76 breakthrough cases were reported in the metro region, 29 in the region that includes Marion, Polk and Linn counties, and the remainder spread across the rest of the state. The location of the deaths was not disclosed.

More than 1.4 million Oregonians have received at least one jab in the arm, compared with roughly 170,000 who have tested positive for COVID since the outbreak began more than a year ago. Nearly 2,500 deaths have been linked to the disease.

Experts say most of the breakthrough individuals experienced "asymptomatic infection" and were only tested for COVID-19 by happenstance. But 11% of those who tested positive were hospitalized within 30 days, though OHA says they were predominantly older than 65 or had underlying health conditions.

"State and local epidemiologists are continuing to track and investigate vaccine breakthrough cases and are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect information that may provide insight into characteristics associated with vaccine breakthrough," according to the news release.

Zane Sparling
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