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More vaccinated people are getting hospitalized with COVID-19, but unvaccinated still make up the majority of new cases

New Pa. Dept. of Health data shows the unvaccinated made up for 74% of the 4,989 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the past month.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Pennsylvania is seeing an uptick in vaccinated people being hospitalized with COVID-19. But the same PA Dept of Health report showed unvaccinated people still accounted for 74% of the 4,989 hospitalizations over the last month amidst the highly contagious delta variant.

Pennsylvania leaders said the uptick of vaccinated people being hospitalized isn't entirely unexpected as more people are now vaccinated against COVID-19. They also discussed the recent rollout of booster shots for people who received Pfizer.

Read the state's post-vaccination data here.

“From a clinical perspective, we expect to see the number of breakthrough cases go up as more people get vaccinated. It is like what we saw with seat belt use years ago. As the number of people wearing seatbelts increased, the number of car accidents involving people wearing seatbelts went up. However, the overall fatality rate from car accidents dropped. Your chances of dying in a car accident drop dramatically if you wear a seatbelt. So too, your chances of dying from COVID-19 drop substantially if you are fully vaccinated,” Acting PA Physician General Denise Johnson said.

Health officials stressed vaccinations are still effective and remain the best prevention tool to avoid hospitalization and death. Currently a booster vaccine has only been approved for Pfizer. Discussions over approving a booster dose for Moderna & Johnson & Johnson are expected to take place this month nationwide.

“What we continue to see is that the vaccines that are widely available to everyone 12 and older are highly effective for preventing hospitalizations and deaths, even as more post-vaccination cases occur in the context of more transmissible variants,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

Read more of the PA Dept of Health report:

Looking at the number of COVID-19 cases over the past 30 days shows that 74 percent of the 135,098 people who tested positive were unvaccinated. Data on the number of post-vaccination deaths in the past 30 days is not yet available due to a 60-day lag in the reporting and verification process. Year-to-date data is provided below.

When reviewing longer-term data, between Jan. 1, and Oct. 4, 2021:  

  • 91 percent of reported COVID-19 cases were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Among a total of 771,734 cases, 69,822, or nine percent, have been identified as post-vaccination cases. Cumulative case incidence among the unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated was 5.6 times higher than the case incidence among the fully vaccinated.  
  • 93 percent of reported hospitalizations with COVID-19 as the primary diagnosis/cause of admission were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Among a total of 44,095 hospitalizations with COVID-19 as the primary diagnosis/cause of admission reported in Pennsylvania, 3,247, or 7 percent, of all hospitals and 78 percent of acute care hospitals in Pennsylvania, representing approximately 80 percent of acute care beds in the state.  
  • 93 percent of COVID-19-related deaths were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Among a total of 7,625 COVID-19-related deaths occurring among 2021 COVID-19 cases, the latest data shows 518, or seven percent, were identified as deaths among post-vaccination cases. Cumulative death incidence among the unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated was 6.0 times higher than the death incidence among the fully vaccinated.  

“Reviewing this data over time helps inform our understanding of factors such as potential waning immunity,” Dr. Johnson said. “This data is consistent with national trends and similar to data reviewed by the FDA and CDC resulting in a recommendation for a booster dose for vulnerable populations several months following the completion of the primary vaccination series.

“What is completely clear to me is that vaccines are working as intended to help keep more people out of the hospital and alive after COVID-19,” Dr. Johnson said. “Because I know it can save their lives, I have encouraged all of my family, friends and others to get vaccinated and, when they are eligible, to get a booster dose.”

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