It’s frustrating to see so many people searching for fact-based information about COVID-19 vaccines would rather rely on conspiracy websites, unverified sources or what “they’ve heard” somewhere, someplace, instead of the Minnesota Department of Health or their local public health leaders.

Some of the distrust is political, which is confounding. A virus doesn’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat or a member of the Rent is Too Damn High Party. But almost every conversation about vaccines sooner or later gets into politics, which leads to heated arguments, personal attacks and false information being bandied about.

We received a news release Tuesday from the Minnesota Department of Health that does an effective job of cutting through all that anger, distractions and misinformation to answer an essential question: How effective are vaccines?

Here is the unedited news release straight from the Minnesota Department of Health:

Today, the Minnesota Department of Health is adding some COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough data to our website: COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Weekly Update.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

COVID-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it. It is normal with any vaccine to see a percent of vaccinated people still get sick. These are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” A vaccine breakthrough case of COVID-19 is when a person tests positive 14 or more days after their final dose of vaccine, and the person has not previously tested positive for COVID-19.

We have been actively monitoring and tracking COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases to better understand what is happening in Minnesota.

Vaccination can make illness less severe in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. Despite this, some fully vaccinated people will still be hospitalized and die. However, fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated.

As the data on the new web page shows, COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases have been uncommon. Less than 0.2% of people who were fully vaccinated, meaning 14 days since their final dose, later became infected with the virus. In other words, 99.8% of people fully vaccinated have not gotten COVID-19. COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among people who were fully vaccinated are even less common with 0.02% of people who were fully vaccinated being hospitalized and 0.002% of them dying of COVID-19.

Vaccination continues to be the best prevention measure against COVID-19. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Some other, local basic facts from the health department:

As of Tuesday, Douglas County’s cumulative number of COVID-19 cases stood at 4,860. This is an increase of 18 cases in one day, 43 in a week.

As of Aug. 8, a total of 18,122 people in Douglas County 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. This represents 60% of the population.

We can do better.