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(LifeSiteNews) – More than three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths in Vermont last month occurred in the “fully vaccinated,” state health officials recently revealed.

In an email to the Vermont Daily Chronicle, the Vermont Department of Health said last week that the unvaccinated accounted for only eight of the state’s 33 virus deaths in September.

A department spokesman told the outlet that the breakthrough cases may reflect failing vaccine efficacy, as those who died, most of whom were elderly, were likely “among the very first to be vaccinated.”

“In addition to being more likely to have severe illness and consequences like hospitalizations and deaths, older Vermonters were among the very first to be vaccinated,” the spokesman said, “and therefore have had more time to potentially become a vaccine breakthrough case with these more severe outcomes.”

The Department of Health did not explain whether any of the eight Vermonters counted as unvaccinated had at least partial vaccination. LifeSiteNews reached out to the department for clarification but did not receive a response before publication.

Around 69 percent of Vermont residents are currently “fully vaccinated,” according to USAFacts, and another eight percent have received at least one dose of a COVID jab.

Breakthrough cases have nevertheless skyrocketed in recent weeks in Vermont, America’s most vaccinated state, with infections in the vaccinated rising from just a few dozen in June to several hundred per week throughout August and September.

By mid-August, COVID-19 infections among the “fully vaccinated” surged to nearly 40 percent of all cases, according to health department data. And last month, Vermont, which celebrated vaccinating 80 percent of all eligible residents by the beginning of the summer, recorded its highest COVID case rate ever.

“Hospitalizations are approaching the pandemic peak from last winter and September was Vermont’s second-deadliest month during the pandemic,” the Associated Press reported Sunday.

COVID resurgence and soaring breakthrough cases have plagued much of the heavily-vaccinated New England region, including Massachusetts, which has a vaccination rate nearly identical to Vermont’s.

COVID-19 cases were more than four times higher in the Bay State this September compared with one year ago, and of the roughly 100 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts last week, around half were among the fully-jabbed.

Breakthrough infections have likewise exploded in Connecticut, with the “fully vaccinated” rising to 35.6 percent of COVID cases and around a quarter of deaths at the end of September. The number of breakthroughs is likely higher, however, given the state’s narrow definition of “fully vaccinated,” which excludes the previously infected and those who took their final vaccine dose less than two weeks before testing positive for the virus.

New England’s COVID vaccine failure also appears to reflect an alarming national trend. A report last month from the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that 60 percent of mostly older Medicare patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in late August were “vaccinated,” using a similar definition as Connecticut’s. Patients classified as vaccinated made up more than 71 percent of recent cases, as well, the presentation reported.

Widespread COVID breakthrough cases have been well-documented in other countries, particularly Israel, which announced in August that it would “updating” the meaning of “full vaccination” to require three, or even four, injections. “We are updating what it means to be vaccinated,” Israel’s COVID czar, Salman Zarka, said as the doubly-vaccinated overwhelmed Israeli hospitals over the summer.