Younger and unvaccinated: The new face of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Massachusetts - The Boston Globe
Jul 31, 2021 2 mins, 54 secs
The trickle of COVID-19 patients arriving at their doors a month ago has grown to a steadier stream — up 78 percent over the last three weeks.

And 80 percent of them are not fully vaccinated.

And they are frustrated about the number of unvaccinated COVID patients who are winding up in hospital beds now — a situation they describe as largely preventable if more people would get their shots.

As of Thursday, Massachusetts was reporting 197 people hospitalized with COVID, up from 80 the week of July 4, when the state’s seven-day average hit its pandemic low.

Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest health care system, said the number of its COVID-19 hospitalized patients more than tripled this month, from 12 on July 1 to 38 on Wednesday.

And Beth Israel Lahey Health said its COVID-19 patients increased from 19 on July 1 to 27 Thursday.

Tom Sequist, a primary care doctor who helped lead Mass General Brigham’s COVID-19 response, said he and his colleagues are seeing an increase in the number of COVID-hospitalized patients across their system.

The agency reported Friday that the rate of spread is extraordinary, and that those who had been vaccinated appeared to carry the same level of virus as the unvaccinated did — findings that were “pivotal” in prompting the CDC’s updated guidance.

But just seven of the infected people in Provincetown have been sick enough to be hospitalized, according to Town Manager Alex Morse, and at least four of those had been vaccinated, according to the CDC.

This year, roughly 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts were not fully vaccinated, a figure that mirrors the trend nationally, in part because far fewer people were vaccinated earlier this year.

That’s likely due to the rise of the new Delta strain and exceptionally high vaccination rates in the state, which mean fewer unvaccinated people to contract the virus.

Over the past month, the analysis shows that the risk of hospitalization from COVID was roughly eight times greater for those who were not fully vaccinated compared with the vaccinated, a number that has dropped as more people get the shot, but remains significant.

The Baker administration has not included vaccination rates among patients hospitalized with COVID in its regular public postings, but an administration spokeswoman said it is working with hospitals on that data and that it will be reported soon.

More than 99 percent of COVID patients admitted to Tufts Medical Center since January have been unvaccinated, according to hospital records.

More than 98 percent of current COVID patients at Southcoast Health had not received their shots, said Dr.

“We are seeing COVID patients admitted with few risk factors and it’s tragic,” Hackner said.

Simone Wildes, an infectious disease physician at South Shore Health, said almost every day she is encountering patients without COVID in the hospital who are not yet vaccinated and could easily gain that protection.

Kari Roberts, critical care physician at Tufts Medical Center, said nearly every COVID-19 patient she has seen has been unvaccinated.

But she’s witnessed people in their 20s and 30s die of COVID throughout the pandemic, with and without other underlying health problems.

As the virus resurges, health and social justice advocates say it’s vital that the state publicly report not only the vaccination status of patients, but also demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, something it ceased doing July 1.

It said the state decided to remove all of the data because it lacks complete numbers on the race and ethnicity of hospitalized COVID patients

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