Outbreak after a vaccination campaign in Kentucky

And what we can learn from it.

On March 1 2021, an outbreak occurred in a Kentucky skilled nursing facility (SNF).

Interestingly, this facility was well on its way through a vaccination campaign, so with the help of the local health department, the CDC was able to track SARS-CoV-2 spread (symptomatic and asymptomatic), hospitalization rates, and death. This study was published yesterday.

What happened?

  • January 10, January 31, and February 21: The facility had vaccination campaigns using Pfizer. 90.4% of residents and 52.6% were staff were vaccinated

  • March 1: An unvaccinated, symptomatic staff member came to the facility.

  • Thereafter: Once the outbreak was identified, the facility conducted daily rapid antigen testing to identify symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals

What are the rates of infection?

Well, unsurprisingly, the vaccinated group fared much better than the unvaccinated. By a long shot…

  • Attack rates were three to four times lower (25% vs. 75% among residents; 7% vs. 30% among staff)

  • Symptom rates were lower (33% vs. 83% among residents; 50% vs. 94% among staff)

  • Hospitalization rates were lower (3% vs. 50% among residents, no staff were hospitalized)

  • Death rates were lower (1.4% vs. 25% among residents; no staff died)

Variant of Concern

After genetic testing, the virus from this outbreak was identified as a variant of concern (with the particularly nasty E484K spike mutation).

  • Because of this (and a combination of other factors like small sample size and high risk population), vaccine effectiveness was lower than were rates from Israel’s national vaccination program and rates seen in clinical trials.

  • Regardless, though, the vaccine had strong protection. Which is a fantastic sign.

Vaccine Hesitancy among Healthcare Workers

This is an unfortunate example of vaccine hesitancy among younger populations and, especially among healthcare workers. In this facility, only 53% of the staff were vaccinated after being offered it multiple times. Although, it’s important to note, that this is higher than the median vaccination rate of SNF healthcare workers (37.5%).

Because this healthcare worker opted out of a vaccine, three of their residents died and, given recent evidence, about 30% of infected staff and residents will suffer from long COVID.

Your decision to not get a vaccine has direct implications on others, even among those already vaccinated. Get. that. vaccine.

Love, YLE