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PHMDC: COVID-19 hospitalization, death rates ~60x higher for unvaccinated vs. boosted

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 12:02 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:46 PM CST
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DANE CO., Wis. (WMTV) - For months, the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services has released numbers showing how much more likely it is for individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to contract the virus - as well as much larger gaps when it comes to hospitalization and death rates. Now, Dane Co. health officials have provided age-adjusted figures from December that show getting boosted can make an even more dramatic impact.

In its weekly update, Public Health Madison & Dane Co. revealed someone in the county who is not fully vaccinated is seven times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to someone who has received either a booster or additional dose. That gap more than doubles the three-to-one ratio PHMDC finds when comparing unvaccinated individuals to those who are fully vaccinated, but not boosted.

Hospitalizations and deaths see a ten-fold difference between the groups, but those gaps become full-fledged chasms when comparing the unvaccinated to the boosted in Dane Co. PHMDC figures show the former cohort are 57 times more likely to end up in the hospital than someone who went for an extra shot, and their death rates are 58 times higher.

Shifting the comparison to fully vaccinated versus fully vaccinated and boosted finds a strong indicator for the advantages of getting that extra shot. The rate that people who have gone for a third shot are being hospitalized or dying from complications related to COVID-19 is a tenth of what it is for the fully vaccinated. Additionally, those who have not received a booster shot are nearly three times more likely to contract the virus in the first place.

Positive Test RateHospitalization RateDeath Rate
Not Fully Vaccinated6,06818030.6
Fully Vaccinated (not boosted)2,527315.9
Fully Vaccinated (and boosted)84830.5
*Age-adjusted rates per 100,000 Dane Co. residents

Earlier this week, a state health official said that, even with Dane County’s high infection rate right now, vaccines are “doing their job” in the county. The director of the Dept. of Health Services Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Traci DeSalvo, explained during a call with reporters that, in places where vaccination rates are high, the vaccines are “helping make sure that people are experiencing a more mild illness for the most part and helping to really reduce those severe outcomes.”

The contrasts between vaccination statuses stands out for Dane Co., which has consistently had the highest vaccination rates in the state. The latest DHS figures show that more than 4 in 5 residents have gone for at least one dose of a vaccine, while more than three-quarters of all residents are considered fully vaccinated. Based on PHMDC’s statistic that approximately 60 percent of the county’s fully vaccinated have received a booster or additional dose, that would put the boosted rate in the county at approximately 45 percent of residents.

The agency’s update also noted that the county has averaged 1,407 COVID-19 cases per day for the two-week period between Jan. 3 and Jan. 16. While that number still reflects the record high infection rates the county has experienced in recent weeks, local health officials noted that it is a stable figure. In last Thursday report PHMDC put the two-week rolling average at 1,159 cases per day over that span. The latest surge also saw Dane Co. record its 100,000th total COVID-19 case since the beginning of the pandemic.

As cases remain higher than any other point during the pandemic, local health officials have not said what they plan to do when the latest countywide emergency order, which includes the mask mandate, expires in less than two weeks.

59% of Wisconsin Fully Vaccinated

The Dept. of Health Services does not break out the number of Wisconsin residents who have received a booster shot or additional dose, however statistics provided by the agency could offer rough estimates.

According to its dashboard Friday, an even 59 percent of all state residents, including those who are not eligible for a vaccine, have completed their original vaccination series as well as waited the two weeks afterwards that is required to be considered fully vaccinated. That percentage includes approximately 3.44 million Wisconsinites. Separately, the agency reports more than 1.8 million additional or booster doses have been administered statewide. That boosted figure comes to a little more than half of the fully vaccinated figure, but because it counts doses as opposed to residents, people who received more than one additional doses or non-residents could affect the figure.

Additionally, the dashboard shows 11,628 new, confirmed cases on Friday. The latest case count let the seven-day rolling average fall further from the inflated figures caused by clearing out the DHS backlog of new cases. The average has now slipped to 17,586 cases per day over the preceding week. In all, DHS reports 1,270,151 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.

Twenty-seven COVID-19-related deaths were reported by DHS on Friday, bringing the total to 10,755.

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