If you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s another reason to roll up your sleeve.
Preliminary data from Cleveland Clinic suggests most people hospitalized for coronavirus aren’t fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, Florida’s Department of Health does not post infections or hospitalizations by vaccine status.
“From January first to around mid-April, we’ve had around 4,300 admissions to the hospital with COVID. Of those patients, 99% were not fully vaccinated,” said Eduardo Mireles, MD, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit.
In addition to showing the majority of COVID-19 hospital admissions were in people who had not received a full vaccine series, another set of data looking at hospital employees shows a similar trend.
Researchers looked at nearly 2,000 hospital workers who had contracted COVID-19. They studied infections in the four months after the vaccine was offered. Results show 99.7% of infections in this group occurred among those who were unvaccinated.
They also found coronavirus MRNA vaccines to be more than 97% effective in protecting against COVID-19.
“This vaccine is highly effective to prevent our community from getting sick, not only our caregivers but the community. We have data on both. It cannot be more clear the message that vaccines work and it’s the key action that we need to do to get back to our normal lives as they were before coronavirus,” said Dr. Mireles.
The research team is currently preparing the data for submission into a medical journal.
So doctors say the bottom line is things are getting safer for the vaccinated, that’s the reason overall numbers are going down, but the unvaccinated are still at risk and getting the wrong safety message.
Another concern doctors have is that new variants will be created in people who are not vaccinated and that the vaccine can not protect against.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said that more than 90% of those who have recently tested positive or been admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated people.
Reeves said the state is seeing a “slight uptick” in total Covid-19 cases since the first of July, but he’s doesn’t think the state is “headed to a third wave.”
He said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the best way to protect yourself from the Delta variant or any others is to get vaccinated.
Reeves said that for those who choose not to get vaccinated, “I personally don’t think that’s a good choice.”
As COVID-19 cases begin surging across Florida once again, hospitalizations are on the rise, something experts attribute to the highly contagious Delta variant and the large population of unvaccinated residents.
As of Thursday, the state reported a total of 871 Delta variant cases, compared to 280 reported last week at this time.
In the past seven days, Florida has seen a 36.8% increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the same time period, 32 counties in Florida experienced an increase of more than 25% in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the CDC reported, adding that all but five Florida counties are reporting either substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission, CDC data stated.
In Florida, nearly 1 in 10 of those infected over the age of 65 will die from the infection. The weekly report from the Florida Department of Health shows that the mortality rate in that age group is 9.5%.
As of July 8, 42% of Florida’s population has not been vaccinated against the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health’s most recent update.
Dr. Stephanie Stovall, interim chief quality and safety officer at Lee Health, expects the case volume will go up where the hospitalizations are among people who have not been vaccinated.
“I suspect we will continue to see the numbers rise,” she said, adding there is a potential for a case surge this summer.
“I doubt it will be as bad as last summer (because) 47% of the population in Florida is vaccinated,” she said. “The vast majority of sick in the hospital are unvaccinated.”
Lee Health’s 14-day moving positivity rate has doubled in two weeks to 15% compared to 8% at the end of June.
AdventHealth hospitals across central Florida, which spans seven counties and includes five hospitals in Volusia and Flagler, reported 430 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday. That’s an increase of more than 100 people compared to the same time last week, according to hospital officials.
“The good news is that we are not seeing infection in patients who are fully vaccinated in the hospital,” Hsu said at Thursday’s AdventHealth morning briefing.
Black Sheep Medical, a family medicine practice in Ormond Beach, posted on Facebook Thursday morning informing the public that AdventHealth Daytona Beach was “out of beds” and there were “30 plus people in the ER waiting on a bed due to a surge in COVID.”
“We are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients who need hospitalization, but there’s been no disruption of care and we routinely manage our capacity through AdventHealth’s network of hospitals throughout Central Florida,” he said. “We continue to urge everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective at reducing hospitalizations and deaths.”
Volusia County experienced a nearly 163% increase in new hospital admissions due to COVID-19, resulting in 6.2 COVID-19 patients per 100 beds, according to the CDC data. Flagler County reported a 140% increase, or 7.36 patients per 100 beds.
Halifax Health was caring for 34 COVID-19 patients on Thursday, more than double the average of 15 patients per day the hospital system experienced from June 1 to this time last week, according to Guthrie.
“Almost all of our current patients have not chosen to receive the vaccine,” Guthrie said in an emailed statement. “There is a clear correlation between patient admissions and patients who have chosen to be vaccinated.”
The vaccine is the best protection against the virus and its many variants, according to Dr. Michael Keating, chief medical officer for AdventHealth for Children during the hospital system’s morning briefing Thursday.
“It doesn’t make you bulletproof against the COVID virus, but what it does is it basically puts Kevlar on you so that you’re not going to feel the full impact of the virus,” he said.
As concerns grow over the delta variant of the coronavirus and some municipalities across the country reinstate mask requirements, a recent Florida law prevents local governments in the Sunshine State from imposing their own COVID restrictions.
The bill was signed by the governor in May in a push to kickstart Florida’s post-pandemic economic recovery. It was followed an executive order that performed a near-same function, while also imposing restrictions on the length of emergency orders and providing the governor the right to invalidate an order that “restricts individual rights or liberties.”
About a month after that law and executive order were signed by DeSantis, the Florida Dept. of Health stopped reporting COVID-19 case information daily, moving instead to weekly reports. Information on the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 also remains limited aside from what’s available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breakthrough cases, or COVID infections in vaccinated individuals, are another concern with the variant.
For unvaccinated travelers, the Sunshine State is the epicenter of the pandemic, “with one in five cases occurring in Florida alone,” said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator. Florida, where only 47% of the population is fully vaccinated, is seeing an average of 49.3 new daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Brown School of Public Health. That’s nearly double the threshold for “red” designation on the risk-assessment map.
But even as many Florida hospitals are at the edge of capacity for Covid-19 patients, Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order remains in place banning local governments from requiring face masks. That hasn’t stopped many local officials from expressing alarm. Last week, the mayor of Orange County, Florida — where Orlando and Walt Disney World are located — issued a “strong recommendation” for wearing face masks in crowded indoor places regardless of their vaccination status.