Sunday, October 24, 2021

As death toll increases, state releases report on efficacy of vaccines

Editor | October 13, 2021 12:20 PM

A Department of Health and Human Services study has further shown the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine in keeping people from getting severely ill and/or dying.

According to an analysis of Covid-19 cases in Montana from July 11 to Sept. 4 among all cases reported in persons eligible for vaccine, the case rate among persons not fully vaccinated was 4.4 times greater than fully vaccinated persons and the Covid-19-associated hospitalization and death rates were 5.1 and 3.3 times greater, respectively, among not fully vaccinated persons as compared with fully vaccinated persons, the department said in its report, authored by public health nurses Jennifer Miller and Laura Williamson.

The unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated, make up the bulk of Covid-19 cases in the state and in the county.

From Feb. 7–Sept. 4 of this year, of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, there were a total of 30,849 Covid-19 cases, of which 1,920 were hospitalized, and 274 died.

In Flathead County alone, 66 people have died from February through September, according to figures provided by DPHHS. The bulk of the deaths were in August and September. Twenty-two died in August, 16 in September. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, 152 people have died in Flathead County. Seventy-six died in 2020 and through September, 76 had died in 2021.

Statewide, of the fully vaccinated, there were 3,610 cases, of which 248 were hospitalized, and 54 deaths were reported.

The statewide deaths of those fully vaccinated were older folks, the report found. From July 11 to Sept. 4, no one under 50 who was fully vaccinated died of the 44 deaths reported. Of the deaths of fully vaccinated, 39 were older than 65.

By contrast, there were 127 deaths of unvaccinated people in the same time frame. While most were older than 50, ten were between age 40 and 49 and five deaths were between 18 and 39.

Vaccination clearly helps people not get sick in the first place. Of the new cases reported, a whopping 12,856 were not fully vaccinated, while 3,162 were fully vaccinated.

Of those new cases, about 44%, or 5,656 of cases were younger people, between ages of 18 to 39. In that age group, 128 ended up in the hospital.

Older adults aged 86 years and older had the highest case and hospitalization rates among fully vaccinated persons, which coincides with the number of active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living facilities. During the week ending July 16, 2021, 12 of 281 licensed long-term or assisted-living facilities in Montana reported active Covid-19 outbreaks to the department.

That number increased to 70 — a full 25% of all facilities in the state — the week ending Sept. 3.

The cases are largely the Delta variant of the disease, which swamped the state in midsummer.

Beginning in July, the Delta variant accounted for greater than 50% of samples sequenced in Montana, and among specimens collected during the first two weeks of August, the Delta variant accounted for 98% of samples sequenced, the report found.

The bottomline?

People should get vaccinated, avoid large gatherings wear a face covering when appropriate, stay home when not feeling well, and wash hands frequently — a clarion call that’s been repeated over and over again since the pandemic began in early 2020.

But cases still are stubbornly high in the state and Flathead County.

As of this writing on Oct. 7, Flathead County had 1,196 active cases and has been around 1,000 active cases for several weeks now.

All told, the county has had 17,723 cases reported and 153 deaths since the pandemic started.