70% of fully vaccinated prisoners caught COVID-19 in a Texas Delta outbreak, the CDC says – but the vaccine protected against severe disease

A nurse fills up a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site at a senior center on March 29, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas
A nurse fills up a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site at a senior center on March 29, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images
  • About 70% of fully vaccinated prisoners caught COVID-19 at a Texas prison outbreak, the CDC said.
  • The data suggests Delta can spread among vaccinated people but that vaccines protect against severe COVID-19.
  • 93% of unvaccinated prisoners caught COVID-19, and one died, the data showed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than two-thirds of fully vaccinated prisoners caught COVID-19 during an outbreak at a Texas prison, but the vaccine protected against severe illness, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study showed.

Out of 185 fully vaccinated prisoners at the unnamed prison, 129 caught the virus, data compiled by the CDC and Federal Bureau of Prisons showed. This was a much lower rate than unvaccinated prisoners – 93% of 42 unvaccinated prisoners caught COVID-19 during the outbreak, according to the study, published Tuesday in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Four people needed hospital treatment, and three of them were unvaccinated, the data showed. One unvaccinated person died, the data showed.

The study adds to growing evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cut the risk of hospitalization and severe disease. Prisons tend to have higher rates of COVID-19 and death due to cramp living conditions and underlying health conditions among prisoners, according to the CDC.

Another CDC study from September 10 showed that unvaccinated Americans were 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people. About 45% of people in the US are unvaccinated, according to the CDC.

The latest CDC study showed that the Delta can spread among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The CDC said “infectious virus was cultured from vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.”

Masks and regular testing are “critical” where physical distancing is “challenging,” even when vaccine rates are high, the CDC said.

Most prisoners were white men and had received Pfizer’s vaccine at least four months prior, the data showed.