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CDC: COVID-19 vaccine beats ‘natural immunity’

Jackson County renews call for COVID-19 vaccination

Jackson County Public Health is renewing its call for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in light of new science that shows vaccination offers better protection than a prior COVID-19 infection.

Getting naturally infected with the COVID-19 virus does offer some protection against getting sick with COVID-19 in the future. Some people believe if they’ve had a case of COVID-19, they now have immunity and don’t need to get vaccinated. Others think naturally acquired immunity is better than getting a COVID-19 shot and they expose themselves to infection.

But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 7,000 hospitalized people and found those who had a prior COVID-19 infection were five times as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 again compared to vaccinated people.

COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. don’t contain COVID-19 viruses. Instead, they teach the body’s immune system to recognize and attack the spiky protrusions on the outside of a COVID-19 virus in case a real virus ever invades the body.

In other research, the CDC reviewed dozens of studies and reported both infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity last for at least six months, but that vaccines offered more consistent protection than infection alone. For people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 before, getting vaccinated afterward provided a big boost in antibodies.

“Vaccination is one of the greatest public health interventions,” said Dr. Jim Shames, health officer for Jackson County Public Health. “Now we have three COVID-19 vaccines that are safe and highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness and death. Getting vaccinated is going to be the best way to keep yourself and those you love safe and help our community return to normal.”

The words of encouragement to get vaccinated came as Jackson County Public Health reported 10 new COVID-19-related deaths for a five-day reporting window that ended Tuesday.

The Jackson County residents who died were a 43-year-old woman, a 47-year-old man, a 56-year-old man, a 63-year-old man, a 71-year-old woman, a 73-year-old man, a 74-year-old man, a 79-year-old man, an 87-year-old woman and an 89-year-old woman.

Seven died at Providence Medford Medical Center, one died at her residence and one died at an out-of-state hospital. All had underlying health conditions, Jackson County Public Health said.

On Tuesday, Jackson County reported 44 new COVID-19 cases.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,123 new COVID-19 cases and 29 COVID-19-related deaths.

Although the peak of the summer and fall COVID-19 surge has waned, Rogue Valley hospitals remain under strain from new COVID-19 cases.

Cases peaked then started dropping in early September, but the decline has stalled out since mid-October. For the week of Oct. 24-30, Jackson County Public Health reported 396 new COVID-19 cases, a 4% increase from the previous week.

Rogue Valley hospitals are also working through a backlog of surgeries and other care that was delayed in order to treat the summer and fall flood of COVID-19 patients, most of whom weren’t vaccinated.

The four hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties had only one open intensive care unit bed Tuesday, and all other types of hospital beds were 93% full.

On Tuesday, the hospitals were caring for 61 patients with COVID-19, including 20 in ICU beds and eight on ventilators.

Asante reported Tuesday that 87% of its current hospitalized COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated, 91% of its COVID-19 patients in ICU beds were unvaccinated and 100% of its COVID-19 patients on ventilators were unvaccinated.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations at Asante have risen since yesterday. Please continue to take precautions to slow the spread. Vaccines help prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” Asante said Tuesday via social media.

In the last 90 days, 85% of COVID-19 related deaths at Asante hospitals were among unvaccinated people.

Asante operates three hospitals — in Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass.

For information on where to get vaccinated in Jackson County, visit jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.