Sparrow’s Own Stats Show Hospitalization Risk Among the Covid-Vaccinated Is Relatively Low

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

Sparrow Hospital in Lansing during the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

The latest statistics out of Sparrow Health System confirm that here, as elsewhere, vaccination for Covid-19 greatly reduces the risk of having a severe case of the disease. 

The newest numbers continue to suggest that, if more people get vaccinated, the strain on the health system – and on local day-to-day life – will decrease. While healthy vaccinated people can become infected and spread Covid-19, they are very unlikely to become severely ill. In fact, health officials here and elsewhere are starting to talk about Covid-19 as akin to the long-familiar seasonal flu among the vaccinated.

Crunching the data from Seattle and New York City (which appear to be chronologically ahead of our area on the Omicron infection curve), a New York Times analysis concludes that “children and vaccinated adults…face little personal risk from Omicron. The risk is not zero, to be clear, even among people who are generally healthy. But it is very small. Every day, people live with small risks, be they from the seasonal flu and other illnesses or from riding in a vehicle, playing sports or other activities.”

This kind of data-based analysis is why Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail talked at her press conference on Tuesday about her department expecting to move to approaching Covid-19 as it does the seasonal flu among the vaccinated. The goal will be to get people vaccinated and try to prevent outbreaks, especially in group settings where disease can more easily spread.

Figures shared yesterday with ELi by Sparrow media rep John Foren show that, as of Tuesday, Jan. 11, Sparrow Health System had 134 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, of whom 85% were unvaccinated.

A total of 22 people are in Sparrow’s ICUs with Covid-19. Of those 22 in the ICU, 20 are unvaccinated. Of the 18 people on ventilators, 16 of them are unvaccinated.

The 112 Covid-19-positive patients in Sparrow’s main hospital range in age from 5-weeks to 89-years old, with an average age of 55 years. Of those 112 patients, 84% are not fully vaccinated. Most of the Covid-19-positive patients (55%) are male. 

Nationwide, studies also continue to show that the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from Covid-19 is much higher among the unvaccinated. A Texas study, for example, showed that during the month of September 2021, unvaccinated people were 20 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than vaccinated people.

In an effort to help those who are not yet vaccinated or who need booster shots, Ingham County Health Department just announced a special partnership with Michigan State University to offer Covid-19 vaccinations, including boosters, at MSU’s Breslin Center on Jan. 17, 26, and 31, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with free parking at the Breslin lot.  Appointments for that opportunity can be scheduled online. (To find other vaccination options near you, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.)

For the present, with local vaccination rates having stalled and Covid-19 infecting people here at unprecedented rates thanks to the highly contagious Omicron variant, hospitals in our area are likely to continue to see rising patient counts – including people needing intensive care unit (ICU) admissions – for at least the next few weeks. Those hospitalized are expected to continue to be chiefly people who are not vaccinated.

Editor’s note: This article arose because of a question from a reader following Tuesday’s ELi report on Covid rates in Ingham County. Have a question you want to Ask ELi to Investigate? Drop us a note at our contact page.

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