DHEC: Unvaccinated dominate COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — A DHEC analysis of nearly 32,000 new COVID-19 cases in August and September showed nearly 86% percent were among people who had not been fully vaccinated.

Dr. Jane Kelly, an assistant state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said the agency was able to determine the vaccination status of 31,993 of 149,738 new cases reported between Aug. 16. and Sept. 15, or about 21%.

The analysis showed that among those whose vaccination status was determined, 85.8% had not been vaccinated. 

In addition, among the cases in which DHEC was able to determine a person’s vaccination status, 72.1% of 1,771 hospitalizations and 77.5% of 760 deaths were among those not fully vaccinated.

The analysis also looked at breakthrough cases, which are among people who had been fully vaccinated.

It found that 94% of the 441 breakthrough cases that required hospitalization and 96.5% of 143 deaths had pre-existing or co-morbid conditions. 

“That’s a lot of numbers,” Kelly said. “All of this analyzed data continues to illustrate that getting fully vaccinated is by far the best action you can take to protect yourself from severe disease or death caused by COVID-10.

Kelly also stressed that getting fully vaccinated helps protect others.

“Getting fully vaccinated is how we end this pandemic,” she said.

Kelly also addressed vaccine exemptions, which she said DHEC does not provide for adults. DHEC also does not have a role in an employer’s decision to require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, she said.

“DHEC does have a responsibility to oversee immunization requirements for school and child-care attendants as required by South Carolina law,” she said. “But that law applies to daycare and school-age children only, not adults.”

Kelly also gave an update on the availability of monoclonal antibody treatments in the state. She said the current supply is enough to meet demand.

As of Sept. 30, there were 8,426 doses available and 2,561 doses were administered in the previous seven days. Another 4,856 doses were scheduled for delivery during the week of Oct. 4 and 4,476 are scheduled for delivery during the week of Oct. 11.

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