SC DHEC reports 542 breakthrough COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine does not mean an individual won't get the virus. But it does provide protection from severe impacts of the illness like hospitalization and death. 

To date, South Carolina has had 542 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state. These are instances in which a fully-vaccinated person ended up contracting the virus. 

Dr. Brannon Traxler, the state's public health director, said people need to understand that no vaccine is "100 percent foolproof."

And just like people who receive an annual flu shot may end up getting the flu, the same goes for the COVID-19 vaccine. But in this case, coronavirus vaccines are often more effective than the ones given for the flu, according to Traxler.

She said more than 90 percent of the COVID-19 cases and deaths in June were among unvaccinated individuals or people who were not fully vaccinated. And more than 80 percent the people hospitalized for COVID-19 complications in June were not fully vaccinated. 

"This shows that even among those breakthrough cases that are occurring, the vaccines are working because they're not only stopping the spread of COVID-19, but they're limiting those impacts," Traxler said. "They're causing less hospitalization and less deaths when the breakthrough cases do, on rare occasion, occur."

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 462 confirmed, 252 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 497,542 confirmed, 107,108 probable.

Percent positive: 8.8 percent.

New deaths reported: 4 confirmed, 6 probable.      

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,700 confirmed, 1,170 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 66.8 percent.

S.C. residents vaccinated

DHEC's vaccine dashboard shows that 49.9 percent of the state's residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 43.9 percent have completed vaccination. 

Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Horry County (48), Richland County (47) and Spartanburg County (43) saw the highest totals. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had 33 new cases on July 21, while Berkeley County had 33 and Dorchester County had 15.


DHEC did not report the ages of the four people who died in the July 21 data. 


Of the 297 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of July 21, 79 were in the ICU and 26 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

DHEC updates its COVID-19 variant dashboard every Friday. As of July 16, there were 54 confirmed cases of the Delta variant identified through sequencing in South Carolina. 

Traxler said vaccination remains the best protective action against COVID-19 and all variants. Other public health measures include staying home when sick, isolating if you test positive for the virus and wearing a mask in the appropriate settings if you are not fully vaccinated. 

Follow Shamira McCray on Twitter @ShamiraTweets.