Minnesota health officials say nearly everyone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19 was not fully vaccinated.

State and federal data shows the chances of contracting the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated are minuscule and getting severe COVID-19 or dying are even smaller.

It is ongoing evidence for state leaders and health officials in their campaign to vaccinate 70 percent of the population ages 16 and older by the end of June.

Gov. Tim Walz, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and other state leaders continuously use the mantra: “Vaccines work.” It is increasingly unlikely, though, that Minnesota will meet its vaccination goal.

About 4.4 million of the state’s 5.7 million people are 16 and older. Getting 70 percent to receive at least one dose means the state would have to vaccinate roughly 176,000 residents by the end of the month.

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That’s not impossible, but it will be hard, given the amount of vaccine hesitancy around the state. It’s frustrating for health officials because the three available vaccines, from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been good at preventing coronavirus infections and severe illness in the few who do get sick after being vaccinated.

Consider:

  • There have been 2,995 breakthrough cases among nearly 2.7 million fully vaccinated residents. That’s a rate of one-tenth of a percent, or 0.1 percent.
  • Of the vaccinated who contracted COVID-19, 317 patients required hospital care. Their average age is 74.
  • There have been 44 fatalities among fully vaccinated residents with an average age of 79. That’s a death rate of 0.0016 percent among the fully vaccinated.

Newly vaccinated residents who get their shots before the end of the month are eligible for prizes that include fishing licenses, park passes, tickets to attractions and a $25 gift card.

“By getting your vaccine, you helped protect yourself, your loved ones, your community, and our state,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement marking 3 million Minnesotans vaccinated. “You are building the broad community protection needed so that we can come together again after an unimaginably difficult year and enjoy summer.”

Although cases numbers and hospitalizations are at the lowest levels of the pandemic, there is still risk for those who are unvaccinated, health officials said. Minnesota’s seven-day average for deaths is about six fatalities per day and those with severe COVID-19 infections are trending younger.

There have been more than 7,500 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota since the outbreak began. More than 604,000 cases have been diagnosed by testing 10 million samples from 4.3 million residents.

Health officials are also concerned because more than 80 percent of new cases are now caused by variants of the coronavirus. These new strains can be more contagious and cause more severe disease.

The Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, is the most prevalent strain in Minnesota, but there are others from around the globe being found here as well. One of the more concerning, is the Delta variant, first identified in India, it has been responsible for 43 cases so far in Minnesota.

“To all the Minnesotans who have not yet gotten vaccinated: now’s the time,” Walz said recently. “COVID-19 is still a threat if you’re not vaccinated.”