The Times 

New report tracks risk of COVID-19 reinfection in Washington state


January 13, 2022

OLYMPIA—Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has published a new weekly report that provides an insight into COVID-19 reinfections. This report includes information on hospitalizations and deaths, demographics, trends over time, and vaccination status of people with reinfection, where DOH has information about both infection events.

Reinfection cases are patients who recovered from a COVID-19 infection and became infected again. A person reinfected with COVID-19 could be fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated. This report is located on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard Washington State Department of Health and is updated weekly.

“We are still learning about COVID-19 and the duration and strength of immunity following infection with this virus,” said Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist for infectious diseases. “Based on what we know from similar respiratory viruses, we expect some COVID-19 reinfections to occur.”

The first report indicates that from September 1 through December 26, 2021, in Washington state:

• A total of 4,404 people had reinfection out of 264,520 cases.

• 223 (5.1%) people with reported reinfection were hospitalized.

• 22 (0.9%) people with reported reinfection died.

• 2,640 (59.9%) of people with reinfection were unvaccinated.

DOH can only identify reinfections if both the initial infection and second infection were diagnosed by a COVID-19 test and reported to the state. Since many COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic and not confirmed by a test, DOH will not be able to classify those cases as reinfections. The reported number of hospitalizations or deaths from reinfections is likely lower than the actual number.

The risk of reinfection is likely dependent on a variety of factors, including:

• The risk of exposure to other people with COVID-19

• COVID-19 vaccination status

Patient characteristics include underlying health conditions.

This risk may increase over time as immunity wanes or as new variants emerge. Variants associated with reinfections will be included in SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing and Variants reporting in Washington State.

While reinfection is relatively low, the best protection against getting any COVID-19 infection is getting vaccinated and then getting a booster shot when eligible. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and should start their two-shot series immediately. As of January 6, youth ages 12 to 17 may receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least five months after completing their primary vaccination series.

To slow transmission of disease, protect people, save lives, and prevent our hospitals from overcrowding, everyone is encouraged to take COVID-19 prevention measures, including consistent and proper mask-wearing.


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