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Vaccinated? No need for COVID hysteria

If you’re vaccinated, the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases shouldn’t be fueling hysteria about the disease. And in no manner, shape or form should the progress of the disease among the unvaccinated delay the opening of society.

Let’s look at some of the numbers from the Oregon Health Authority (national estimates where state data are not available) and correlate them with population. When we do, we find that virtually all the recent concern about COVID is attributable to unvaccinated individuals, and that those who are vaccinated have little to fear from the disease and its variants (barring unforeseen eventualities such as a new variant that doesn’t respond to the vaccines.)

So let’s ask ourselves: If we’re vaccinated, what are our chances of winding up in the emergency room? Of being hospitalized? Of dying?

First, emergency room visits. Since mid-May through the present, about 2% of emergency room visits in Oregon have been for treatment of patients with COVID-like symptoms. This amounts to 50-100 COVID-related visits per day. National data suggest that perhaps 3% to 4% of these visits would be by vaccinated individuals, equal, then, to about two to four individuals per day for Oregon. Based on overall emergency room usage of the population, about 2,500-3,000 of the state’s vaccinated population would find themselves in the emergency room on a given day from all causes. What these data tell us is that If you are vaccinated and find yourself in the emergency room for any reason, it’s about 1,000 times more likely that you were there for something other than COVID.

Second, hospitalizations: National data suggest that about 97% of hospitalizations related to COVID are unvaccinated individuals. In Oregon in the first weeks of July, there have been about 75-100 daily admissions for COVID-related illness (ICU and non-ICU). The number has recently spiked to about 180 daily admissions, of which about 3-5 would be vaccinated. The state’s vaccinated population of 2.4 million generates about 650 daily hospital admissions from all causes. So … if you’re vaccinated and admitted to a hospital, it’s more than 100 times more likely that you were admitted for something other than COVID.

Finally, the grim reaper. We have about 2-4 deaths per day from COVID in Oregon. According to the OHA, about 94% of deaths are attributable to individuals with COVID. In other words, it’s likely that virtually no deaths are attributable to vaccinated individuals.

So this is what we have as estimates of the daily toll from COVID for vaccinated individuals in Oregon: two to four emergency room admissions; three to five hospitalizations; and likely, zero deaths.

Let’s see how this might play out as we begin our daily activities, if we’re vaccinated: Our chances of winding up in an emergency room or of being hospitalized due to COVID are about one to 1.5 in a million. Our chances of dying are less than one in 2 million. If you’re vaccinated and these numbers scare you, you might hesitate to enter the bath this evening — there’s a possibility that you might drown. You might also choose not to get into your car, which presents a much higher risk than COVID. Nothing out there has zero risk!

The vaccines are available to everyone and their benefits have been widely publicized. Still, there appears to remain a hard core of naysayers who are likely to remain unconvinced. To whom we must say: “You’ve made your choice. Proceed at your own risk. We must now move forward without you.” We can’t let COVID scare talk delay the full opening of society, with the reintroduction of nonsensical masking mandates and similar measures that might protect the unvaccinated.

Bob Wetmore lives in Ashland.