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Rochester MN (KROC-AM News) - A new Mayo Clinic study has found that hospitalizations resulting from so-called breakthrough COVID-19 infections are "extremely uncommon" among people who have been vaccinated or have obtained immunity through a previous infection.

A Mayo Clinic news release says researchers found fewer than 1 in 1000 people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 or previously infected required hospitalization after suffering a new breakthrough infection. The Mayo researchers say the study supports previous studies that found being vaccinated "is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death.

The study was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"In the general primary care patient population, those who have been vaccinated have very low risk of subsequent hospitalization for breakthrough COVID-19," says lead author Benjamin Pollock, Ph.D., a researcher in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. "Our study shows that while it can and does happen, that these occurrences are extremely uncommon."

The news release says the study involved more than 106,000 primary care patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester who were at least 18 years old and had tested positive for COVID-19 and/or were vaccinated against the virus. It found that only 69 of those people ended up being hospitalized due to a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.

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Among those who had been vaccinated, the hospitalization rate was 6 in 10,000 patients. Among those who had been previously infected but not vaccinated, 3 and 10,000 are hospitalized after developing breakthrough infections. Of the patients who had been vaccinated and previously infected, the hospitalization rate was only 1 in 10,000.

COVID vaccine
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The lead author of the study says the differences between the three groups are not statistically significant. They also stress that "the interpretation should not necessarily be that natural immunity provides the same protection as vaccination." Dr. Pollard also stated, "Rather, the study found that among our primary care population, both natural immunity and vaccine immunity appeared to lead to very low rates of breakthrough hospitalizations."

The study did not include a comparison between immunity after infection and vaccination rates involving people who had breakthrough infections and only had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. The senior author of the research is Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, who is the head of the Mayo Clinic Infection Prevention and Control Program.

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