NEWS10 investigation: reporting of revolutionary cases



ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – Prior to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a COVID-19 Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) recall, NEWS10 began searching for breakthrough cases by vaccine type. What we have found so far is:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not track breakthrough cases by vaccine type,
  • Counties disagree on whether to submit this information to the state,
  • The Department of Health (DOH) is hijacking questions of whether or not counties are supposed to send them information on revolutionary vaccine-specific cases.

The CDC told NEWS10 in an email Tuesday that they are not tracking breakthrough cases by vaccine type. The agency’s website said the CDC would monitor the most severe breakthrough cases or those that resulted in hospitalizations or death. As part of that surveillance, the CDC also said it will be looking at which vaccine these breakthrough cases might be linked to.

NEWS10 noticed that the information announced or available on the revolutionary cases varied from county to county. To better understand the groundbreaking cases in the capital region, NEWS10 contacted several local counties for information after the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID recall on Monday, September 20.

Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington counties all regularly provide the number or percentage of revolutionary cases. Albany, Warren and Washington counties detail the information in daily reports sent to the media. Saratoga and Schenectady counties are making information available on their COVID dashboards.

Warren and Washington County also provide vaccine-specific information on breakthrough cases, number of cases, or percentage of cases in residents initially vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J. Albany County reports the percentage of new cases among those vaccinated, Saratoga and Schenectady counties provide similar information.

On September 20, NEWS10 sent an email to DOH that said it was aware of 66,217 laboratory-confirmed groundbreaking COVID cases in fully vaccinated New Yorkers aged 12 or older. They said this equated to 0.6% of the fully vaccinated population. The DOH also reported on a new state website with groundbreaking information on the cases. However, NEWS10 noticed that there was no vaccine-specific information on the new website and that an increasing number of breakthrough cases were being reported by counties.

The percentage of breakthrough COVID cases in Albany County reported in their daily updates, typically once a week, has been over 40% since early September. From September 8 to October 19, between 43 and 49% of new cases involved vaccinated residents, who had self-reported their vaccination status.

Of 215 new cases in the past seven days, Saratoga County reported that 46% were breakthrough cases. Washington County has reported 217 revolutionary cases as of September 20. According to county site, there were 457 breakthrough cases as of October 21.

NEWS10 was still curious about the inconsistent information on the revolutionary cases reported by the counties and decided to contact the DOH and local counties again on October 20. This time, we asked counties if they should report the number of breakthrough cases by vaccine type to DOH.

When two local counties said to their knowledge that vaccine-specific progress information was supposed to be reported to DOH, we contacted DOH again to verify that counties were required to provide the information. We also asked if we could get the breakthrough case count per vaccine.

After many email exchanges with DOH, NEWS10 was no closer to a definitive answer, so we reached out to other counties in the capital region to try and determine the truth. From the responses we received, it was clear that not all counties were reporting breakthrough cases by vaccine type and not all agreed that the information was mandated by the DOH.

“When we enter our positive cases into CommCare, the state’s COVID tracking system, we enter vaccine-specific information for people who are positive but have been partially or fully vaccinated,” said Jack Mabb, director of health Columbia County Public Service. “Concretely, the system asks which vaccine administered, which dates and which batch numbers. ”

The Albany County Department of Health (ACDOH) said it is also using CommCare to report breakthrough cases as well as vaccine-specific information. “We assess immunization status, including vaccine type, during interviews with cases; it is self-declared and not verified by ACDOH. And this information is shared with NYS through CommCare, ”they said.

Warren County also said there was a need to report the type of vaccine for breakthrough cases to DOH, according to public health director Ginelle Jones. When asked how long they had been required to send the information, the county could not provide a specific date, but said it believed it was shortly after the start of the administration of vaccines in January.

Washington County did not explicitly say this was required by the DOH, but said it regularly included vaccine-specific information for breakthrough cases. “We track and report these with our regular reports on our website, social media and in our daily COVID-19 newsletter,” said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Timothy Hardy. “Our public health team regularly reports this data directly to NYSDOH in its case reporting system.”

“To our knowledge, it is not mandatory to provide vaccine-specific breakthrough cases to NYSDOH,” Saratoga County said. “We are one of the many counties that use NYSDOH’s COVID-19 case management database and deliver groundbreaking information through the system. Schenectady County simply said its public health department does not track breakthrough cases by vaccine type.

Information on the groundbreaking cases on the state’s website is obtained in part by browsing immunization records, according to Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko. “This information was verified by matching records in statewide immunization databases with statewide testing and daily hospital reporting systems,” he said. she declared.

Based on the fact that some counties submit vaccine-specific information on breakthrough cases, the health ministry should have information for at least those counties. NEWS10 made a final attempt to contact DOH on Thursday to find out if counties were required to submit vaccine-specific information. They did not respond directly to the question but sent a statement again referencing the state’s website for tracking revolutionary cases and a previously released report.

“The ministry’s breakthrough reports are not based on specific county submissions. As the study we sent you earlier and our dashboard explains, we match statewide immunization databases with our testing and hospitalization records to determine this. “

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