Here’s how effective COVID-19 vaccines have been in Idaho. (Hint: Very.)

Hospitalizations are 20 times higher in Idahoans who aren’t fully vaccinated.

By: - July 27, 2021 4:15 am
ave Lacknauth, Director of Pharmacy Services, Broward Health Medical Center shows off a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A poll by Kaiser Family Foundation found that fewer people are waiting to see how others respond to the COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna (shown) before deciding to get vaccinated. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare last week shared a graphic to illustrate how much of Idaho’s COVID-19 activity is among the unvaccinated.

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Idaho’s Public Health Division administrator, was making a point about how getting a coronavirus vaccine can reduce the risk of getting sick with COVID-19, significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and almost eliminate the risk of death.

Idaho Health and Welfare vaccination graphic, showing that since January, fully vaccinated people who got COVID-19 made up 98.9% cases, 98.6% of hospitalizations and 98.7% of deaths.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s graphic showing the percentage of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths were among the fully vaccinated. (Screenshot from presentation)

The data gathered for that graphic were from January, though. Few Idahoans were vaccinated before February, when the vaccine opened up to educators and people age 65 and older.

The Idaho Capital Sun asked Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner to look back to March, to see if the numbers were different. The Idahoans most vulnerable to death and hospitalization from COVID-19 were first in line for vaccination, starting in December, and had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by March.

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The percentages of cases, hospitalizations and deaths among the fully vaccinated were each about 1 percentage point higher in that more recent time period. That’s because more people are vaccinated, and the vaccines are not 100% effective on all people.

However, the per-capita rates from March 15 to July 15 confirm that the COVID-19 vaccine has helped to significantly reduce infections, hospitalizations and death from the coronavirus disease.

Here’s how Turner arrived at the rates:

By March 15, 544,547 people in Idaho were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Two months later, that number had increased to 680,073. Turner took the average of that number — 612,310 — to calculate a standardized rate for cases, hospitalizations and deaths among fully vaccinated Idahoans.

To calculate the number of unvaccinated Idahoans, Turner subtracted the 612,310 from the state’s total population — 1,839,106 — to arrive at 1,226,796. That is what she used to calculate a standardized rate for cases, hospitalizations and deaths among non-fully vaccinated people.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, radio journalism, data visualization and much more.

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