EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The city of El Paso reported four COVID-19-related deaths last week and three out of the four were amongst people who were fully vaccinated. However, local doctors say this does not compare to the number of people hospitalized or deaths coming from those who are unvaccinated.
There are a total of 16 breakthrough deaths, which are those who were infected with the virus despite vaccination, however, doctors say that is a small number out of the 2,758 total deaths reported.
“It is of importance to know that the people that passed away that were fully vaccinated, it is because their body was fighting other co-morbidities,” said El Paso County-City Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza.
He said the majority of breakthrough deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older and/or with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a combination of other health conditions.
“It makes them more susceptible to get the disease,” Ocaranza said.
Dr. Ogechika Alozie, a top infectious disease expert, said he continues to stress the importance of the vaccine and discourages people from thinking the vaccine is no longer working.
“The driver here is the underlying conditions, the vaccines work as they are supposed to,” Alozie said.
Alozie said the Delta variant is spreading at a highly contagious rate, but added the vaccine will help the body fight off the virus.
“If you are unvaccinated, this is the most dangerous time to be unvaccinated with a surge in a variant that is so contagious,” Alozie said.
The doctors remind the public the vaccines were never said to be 100-percent effective in preventing the virus but said it will keep most people out of the hospital.
“If we think about the variants that exist that the vaccine can’t protect, the answer is zero and that’s the take-home,” Alozie said.