As breakthrough infections have become more common in recent months, a growing share of COVID-19-related deaths is being reported among vaccinated people. But experts are confident that booster shots help lower the mortality risk.

The gap between the recorded fatalities in the vaccinated and unvaccinated has been very wide since the start of the pandemic. But things have seemingly taken a different turn when the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants emerged. And now even the vaccinated population is reporting more deaths than before, especially among the more vulnerable individuals.

At the peak of the delta wave, federal data showed less than a quarter of COVID-19 deaths among vaccinated people. Fast forward to the peak of the omicron wave in February, fatalities among the vaccinated rose to more than 40%. Seniors in the United States who received their initial vaccine doses earlier than everyone else were mostly affected, as per CNN.

An analysis of mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that less than a third of the vaccinated people who died due to a breakthrough infection in January and February got their booster shots. The remaining two-thirds only got the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, suggesting that the booster jabs might have lowered the death risk for people who received them.

Aside from decreasing the death risk in vaccinated people, the vaccine boosters also lowered the death risk from COVID-19 in the vaccinated population compared to the unvaccinated. CDC data indicated that the risk of dying from COVID-19 was five times higher for unvaccinated people.

Because of the latest trends in COVID-19 deaths, the CDC issued an update earlier this month urging everyone to stay up to date with their vaccines by getting the booster shots when eligible. According to the public health agency, boosters enhance or restore protection that might have waned through time after the primary series of vaccines.

Everyone aged 12 years and above can get one booster shot after completing the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccines. Adults aged 50 and older and immunocompromised people aged 12 and above are eligible for two booster shots to stay protected amid the pandemic.