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“Vast majority” of hospitalized COVID breakthrough cases in SC among the immunocompromised

Unvaccinated continue to make up majority of hospitalizations
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 9:23 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Health officials are calling the current spike of COVID-19 cases a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” But, some fully immunized people are getting caught in the surge.

“The patients we are seeing with breakthrough infections are almost entirely patients with chronic medical conditions. The vast majority are immunocompromised. An example would be a patient who was an organ transplant recipient who has to take immunosuppressants to prevent rejection,” said Dr. Andrew Goodwin with MUSC.

Of the 189 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across all MUSC hospitals, 154 are unvaccinated 35 are fully vaccinated. The gap between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated just gets wider as the severity of the illness increases.

COVID-19 Admitted Patients August 26
COVID-19 Admitted Patients August 26(MUSC)

The rest of the state is experiencing a similar trend, according to DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler.

Of the 23 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in SC who are fully vaccinated, 91.2 percent have an underlying health condition.

In addition, of the 21 percent of COVID-related deaths among fully vaccinated people, 95.2 percent of those who died and were vaccinated had an underlying health condition.

South Carolina breakthrough COVID-19 cases in July.
South Carolina breakthrough COVID-19 cases in July.(WIS TV)

Traxler said these numbers are further proof of the effectiveness of the vaccine and how important it is for people to get the shot.

“[The vaccine’s] main objective is to prevent severe illness. It is to prevent hospitalization and death and it does an extremely good job in that regard,” Traxler said. “We know your severability of disease is decreased by being fully vaccinated. So, it is more likely that if you are going to get infected you might be asymptomatic.”

Dr. Goodwin said he has heard from unvaccinated patients in the ICU who wish they would’ve gotten vaccinated, but sadly has to tell them they are too late.

While Goodwin said, “mild” breakthrough infections can still leave people with flu-like symptoms for a few days, the vaccine is still doing what it was meant to do by keeping the majority of people out of the hospital.

“The fortunate thing is amongst our patients who are fully vaccinated who don’t have an immunocompromised it’s extraordinarily unlikely you will require hospitalization even rarer you will require critical care,” he said.

He said there is no exact time when someone should go to the hospital if they’ve had a lingering mild case of COVID-19, but struggling to breathe or consistent shortness of breath should be a warning sign for people.

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