The vast majority of those hospitalized for covid-19 in the US have one thing in common: they are not vaccinated

La inmensa mayor铆a de los hospitalizados por covid-19 en EEUU tiene una cosa en com煤n: no est谩n vacunados
A covid-19 patient is treated at a hospital in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images).
Por Jes煤s del Toro, tomado de, 16-06-2021

Covid-19 cases in the United States have dropped significantly in recent weeks and months, from nearly 16,500 hospitalizations per day on average last January to just over 2,000 today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To a large extent, the cause of this drastic decrease is the extent of vaccination that has been given in the country: 64.6% of the adult population has received at least one dose and 54.6% of adults have already been fully vaccinated .

However, every day there are new hospitalizations, which number in the thousands, and the pandemic, although on the decline, is still active and charges a rude rate of suffering and death. Who is currently suffering that blow, as reported by the USA Today , is the population that is not vaccinated.

Certainly, vaccination does not absolutely prevent contagion, but it does provide formidable protection against the most severe infection that leads to hospitalization and death of patients. And there is a reduced proportion of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus among vaccinated people. At HealthPartners clinics in Minnesota, less than 1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are vaccinated, 2% are at University Hospitals Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and less than 5% of those admitted during 2021 at Sanford Health clinics, located in Midwestern states of the United States.

The vast majority of the sick and hospitalized for covid-19 are unvaccinated people. And those cases have a higher incidence in states where the percentage of the vaccinated population is lower.

The age of those hospitalized is also different now: before the arrival of vaccines against covid-19, people 65 years of age or older made up the bulk of those admitted. Now, with this population vaccinated in considerable proportion, there is a greater proportion of young patients.

In addition, and what makes the situation more ominous for people at risk, is that in states with fewer vaccinated populations there are higher rates of patients hospitalized for covid-19 who require, due to the severity of their case, being admitted to intensive care units.

La inmensa mayor铆a de los hospitalizados por covid-19 en EEUU tiene una cosa en com煤n: no est谩n vacunados
A patient at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, is seen in Houston. The Delta variant of the coronavirus would be more contagious and aggressive, which could increase hospitalizations among the unvaccinated population. (Getty Images).

The message is clear: vaccination against covid-19 is effective, protects significantly against the development of severe symptoms and substantially prevents hospitalizations and deaths. Those who are not vaccinated are, therefore, at greater risk and have not taken advantage of the extraordinary possibility of protecting themselves against covid-19.

The scenario becomes more gray when you consider that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly (initially detected in India, where it has caused havoc, is already the dominant variant in Great Britain and has already been detected in the United States. United) and is claimed to be more contagious and aggressive than previous variants.

That opens the disturbing possibility that, if the vaccinated population does not increase further, those who have not been immunized would be at risk of facing a much more virulent covid-19, which could translate into a new quota of hospitalizations and deaths.

Fortunately, based on available data, commercially available vaccines such as Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s (approved and in use in Mexico but not in the United States) offer extensive protection against the Delta variant.

The vaccine is free and saves lives. It is safe and although in rare cases it produces significant side effects, it has been shown that the risk of this is less than that of contracting COVID-19. That is why, according to USA Today, it is key that more people decide to get vaccinated.

To protect those who have not yet done so, which are a significant number, various factors must be considered. In countries, such as Mexico, where vaccination has been carried out by age group and the youngest people are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, the challenge is to have a larger number of vaccines to cover as much of the population as possible, a process that is ongoing and will still take some time to complete.

In the United States, on the other hand, where anyone 12 years of age or older can be vaccinated and vaccines are generally widely available, those who have not been vaccinated mostly fall into three groups: those who have not done so because of not have close or easy access to a vaccination center, those who hesitate to do so for various reasons (medical, religious, etc.) or due to misinformation, and those who are directly opposed to vaccines and often have a proclivity for conspiracy theories and the rejection of science and government, says the aforementioned newspaper.

The first group will be able to be vaccinated (and has already been able to do so) increasingly with the expansion of vaccination sites that include both clinics and hospitals as well as specific centers, pharmacies and community centers. Before the latter, information and awareness campaigns offer the possibility of clearing up doubts and the testimonies of close people or respected public figures also help to convince. Doubts about whether the vaccine has a cost (it is free) or whether the person’s immigration status should be disclosed (information is not required), which affect low-income populations or the undocumented can also be cleared with information and advice.

The third group, that of anti-vaccines, is more difficult, because their rejection of vaccination itself (which predates the current pandemic) is sometimes compounded by anti-scientific and political-ideological distortions, including conspiracy theories, which they muddy the situation.

In any case, the emergence of covid-19 and the possibility of stopping it via vaccination are clear realities. Therefore, expanding information and access to promote vaccination is key. In addition, although the rate of covid-19 has been lower among those under 12 years of age, the rise of the Delta variant opens up new concerns, so that the vaccination of family members older than that age also protects the smallest. (A vaccine for children under 12 will still take several months to become available.)

In the end, the testimonies of health professionals are clear: the cases of covid-19 that they have been seeing in recent times are the vast majority of unvaccinated people, which shows the effectiveness of vaccines and the need to expand its reach. That will prevent a lot of suffering and save lives.

 Instituto Dominicano de Aviaci贸n Civil (IDAC), Santo Domingo, Rep煤blica Dominicana