The Journal Gazette
Thursday, May 20, 2021 1:00 am

State officials: Vaccines effective

Say 99% of current cases happen in unvaccinated

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The proof that COVID-19 vaccines are working is in the numbers – only 36 vaccinated Hoosiers have been hospitalized with the coronavirus since Jan. 8 out of 8,141 COVID-19 patients through Tuesday.

Similarly, there have been 1,057 so-called breakthrough cases – a positive COVID-19 test after vaccination – since then, out of 126,190 total confirmed cases.

“(The vaccines) are even better than expected,” said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the Indiana Department of Health's chief medical officer.

A breakthrough case is one that occurs at least 14 days after a person was fully vaccinated.

Weaver added that 24 Hoosiers who were fully vaccinated have died from COVID-19 out of 1,262 deaths since Jan. 8, when the vaccine became available in Indiana. Twenty-two of those were older than 70. She said elderly people often have less robust immune systems.

The data show the vast majority of COVID activity now affects those who are unvaccinated in the state – more than 99% of the cases and hospitalizations and 98% of the deaths.

Dr. Brian Dixon, director of public health at the Regenstrief Institute, said the Indianapolis research organization is working on an in-depth analysis but the effectiveness is clear.

“Most new cases are in individuals under the age of 40 – in fact, a lot of kids and young adults,” he said. “And our mortality rate has gone way down.”

Dixon noted that acceptance of the vaccine is much lower in younger Hoosiers. About 70% of residents in their 70s have received the vaccine, compared with 49% for those in their 50s and 36% in their 40s, the state dashboard shows. Overall, 2.3 million Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, or 40.3% of the eligible population.

Weaver said she hears from colleagues who are still admitting people into the emergency room with coronavirus symptoms, and those patients are almost all unvaccinated.

“It's heartbreaking,” she said. “It's also preventable.”

As of Tuesday, 850 patients were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19. Dixon said Regenstrief is tracking the vaccination status of the patients but is not putting it online. He said this is because the numbers are in the single digits and pose privacy concerns.

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