Delta variant outbreak infects highly vaccinated prison population, but few were hospitalized, CDC says

Health, Fitness & Food

A Sheriff’s deputy takes an employee’s temperature as at Las Colinas women’s Detention Facility in Santee, California on Wednesday, April22, 2020.
Sandy Huffaker | AFP | Getty Images

The fast-spreading delta variant ripped through a federal prison in Texas over the summer, infecting both the unvaccinated and fully vaccinated populations, but few were hospitalized, according to a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the 233 incarcerated people at the prison, which wasn’t named, 185, or 79%, were fully vaccinated against Covid19, according to the new report, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

From July through August, 172 incarcerated people, or 74% of the federal prison’s population, were infected with Covid, according to the CDC. The delta variant hit the unvaccinated harder, the agency said, infecting 39 out of the 42 prisoners who hadn’t gotten the shots. That compares to the 129 infections out of 185 fully vaccinated people.

Four people were hospitalized, three of whom were unvaccinated, and one person died, who was unvaccinated, according to the CDC.

The agency said the report demonstrates the potential for delta variant outbreaks in congregate settings, including correctional and detention facilities, even among places and populations with high vaccination coverage.

“Although attack rates, hospitalizations, and deaths were higher among unvaccinated than among vaccinated persons, duration of positive serial test results was similar for both groups,” the agency wrote in the report.

Vaccinating most of the U.S. population remains critical as the shots are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths, the agency said.

The new report comes as federal health officials urge all Americans to get vaccinated and continue to wear masks indoors, especially in congregated settings, as the highly contagious delta variant spreads across the U.S.

The U.S. still has a dangerously high number of cases. The nation is reporting an average of more than 138,900 cases per day as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country is reporting an average of more than 1,900 deaths per day, Hopkins data shows.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden outlined a broad plan to boost Covid vaccination rates in the U.S., pressuring private employers to immunize their workforce as well as mandating the shots for federal employees, contractors and health-care workers.

The plan includes offering booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines to the general population.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Friday unanimously recommended Pfizer booster shots to people age 65 and older and other vulnerable Americans. A final decision from the agency is expected any day now.

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