SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – More data is emerging about how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at making sure people do not get sick and reducing the chances they get others sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data last week that shows people who are vaccinated can get COVID-19, but it is extremely uncommon. “There is this phenomenon called vaccine breakthrough cases,” New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase explained.

Out of the more than 75 million fully vaccinated people in the United States last week, 5,814 had reported infections. “Sounds like a lot, but it’s hardly anybody if you think about 75 million people. It’s like 1 in 20,000 or something like that. So, it’s very rare,” Dr. Scrase said.

Forty-five percent of the reported infections were people 60 or older. Seven percent were hospitalized and one percent, or about 74 people, died.

Another question has been whether vaccinated people can be asymptomatic but still spread the virus. A CDC study of 3,950 healthcare workers showed promising results. They were tested for COVID weekly for three months. Regardless of symptoms, being fully vaccinated decreased infection by 90 percent.

So, how much longer will people who are fully vaccinated have to keep wearing masks? “I do think that there will be a period when the pandemic’s completely under control where we will drop that recommendation or only recommend it in certain situations,” Dr. Scrase said.

However, he said we still need to see more improvements in two areas before we get to that point.”When we get there, we’ll have a lot more New Mexicans vaccinated and we’ll have a lot, lot lower case count when we finally get to that frontier. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m not sure when it’s gonna be,” he said.