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‘Breakthrough cases are not our issue’: 90 percent of Shelby Co. COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hundreds of COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across Shelby County.

Most hospitals in Shelby County say at least 90 percent of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Breakthrough cases continue to be reported, resulting in some vaccine critics asking why get vaccinated if there’s a chance of transmission?

Doctors say the answer is simple.

“The importance of vaccination is it prevents you from having severe COVID-19 disease and prevents you from dying from COVID-19,” said Dr. LaTonya Washington, president of the Bluff City Medical Society.

The numbers reported from the hospitals to the state health departments are clear. Fully vaccinated people are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

In Shelby County, Regional One said all of its 44 COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Of the 258 virus patients within Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, 90 percent do not have the shot. The hospital network said, “In August, nearly 30 percent of our hospitalized COVID patients were age 40 or younger. The Delta variant of COVID-19 does not care how old you are – we are seeing patients of all ages. While we have seen a slight decrease in our COVID-19 hospitalizations, this is no time to let down our guard. COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community and vaccinations are the only answer to stop it.”

Within the Baptist network, 94 percent or 542 of the 582 COVID-19 patients there are unvaccinated.

“We got tested and we all got COVID,” said Allison Fouche, who experienced a breakthrough case.

Fouche got COVID-19 last month for the second time. The City of Memphis employee is vaccinated. During her first bout with it last year, she was not vaccinated.

She said her experience this time was much different than the constant fever, severe headache and extreme fatigue of last time.

“This time, all I had was a stuffy nose and felt tired for about a day and a half,” Fouche said.

She quickly recovered at home which she credits to being fully vaccinated.

“On a scale from one to ten, COVID when I had it in October 2020, was an 8.5 or nine. This time it was maybe a one,” she said.

More breakthrough cases are being reported across the Mid-South.

Still, cases among the unvaccinated between May and July in Tennessee accounted for 90 percent of the total cases, 88 percent of hospitalizations and 94 percent of deaths.

Nearly 86 percent of active cases in Arkansas are among the unvaccinated, and only one percent of overall cases in Mississippi are seen in vaccinated people.

The Mississippi Department of Health said, “Breakthrough cases are not our issue. It is unvaccinated individuals that make up the majority of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

“What it’s really telling us is the vaccines do actually work,” Washington said.

You can find a list of where you can get a vaccine free and without an appointment here.

Booster shots are now available for those with compromised immune systems.

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