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Report: Unvaccinated people are more than 15 times more likely to die from COVID-19

Medical ICU registered nurse Cassie Coats assists as a team moves a COVID-positive patient into...
Medical ICU registered nurse Cassie Coats assists as a team moves a COVID-positive patient into a new bed.(Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography | UMMC)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released new data showing that unvaccinated people were 15.4 times, or 1,540 percent, more likely to die from COVID-19 during the four-week period ending Aug. 21.

This comes as the state hit a pandemic high on Aug. 26 with 912 adults in the ICU with COVID-19. The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators also reached a record high at 574.

This week’s respiratory surveillance report is the first to provide age-adjusted death rate data for COVID-19. Adjusting for age is a way to make fairer comparisons between vaccinated and unvaccinated people because the vaccinated population is older than the unvaccinated population and older people are more likely to die from COVID-19. Data is preliminary and is subject to change as additional cases and deaths are reported.

During the week ending Aug. 21, unvaccinated people were also 4.4 times, or 440 percent, more likely to catch COVID-19 than vaccinated people. The difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated teens was even greater during the week ending Aug. 21, with unvaccinated people aged 12 to 17 being 6.3 times, or 630 percent, more likely to get COVID-19 than vaccinated people in the same age group.

North Carolina has been experiencing the fastest acceleration in cases and hospitalizations since the pandemic started. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized and approved in the United States continue to be effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant, according to officials.

“The vast majority of people dying with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. If you are not vaccinated please don’t wait until it is too late,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services. “The authorized and approved vaccines have been through rigorous clinical trials and met scientific standards. Millions of North Carolinians have been safely vaccinated.”

There were 29 deaths among unvaccinated persons younger than 65, compared with one death among vaccinated persons younger than 65 during the four-week time period. There were 30 deaths among unvaccinated persons older than 65, compared with seven deaths among vaccinated persons older than 65.

Vaccines are widely available in North Carolina. Through Aug. 31, anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a participating location will receive a $100 Summer Card in the form of a Prepaid Mastercard while supplies last.

To get a free vaccine near you, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.

While vaccines are the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death, monoclonal antibody therapy can reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization, especially in high-risk patients. If you test positive for COVID-19, monoclonal antibody therapy must be administered within 10 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms, so it is crucial to get tested early.

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