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Health Team

Unvaccinated people in NC are 25 times more likely to die of COVID-19

Posted November 19, 2021 12:52 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2021 1:27 p.m. EST

— New data released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday shows that unvaccinated people in the state are more than 25 times more likely to die from coronavirus when compared to vaccinated people.

Unvaccinated North Carolinians were also five times — or more than 500% — more likely to get coronavirus when compared to those who are vaccinated last week.

New COVID-19 diagnoses are up in about half of US states over the past week, and deaths have risen in 17 states.

In North Carolina, the number of cases and deaths reported daily has slowly started to tick upward, according to WRAL Data Trackers. On Friday, 2,401 new coronavirus cases were reported, an increase of 20% when compared to last Friday. The state’s rolling, seven-day average of cases was 1,757 – lower than its peak during the height of the Delta variant in September, but higher than lows seen in June and July.

Coronavirus vaccinations in NC

"Cases are going up. It was coming down," epidemiologist Ali Mokdad told CNN. "This is at a time when the United States has all the tools we need to prevent a surge, all the tools we need to save lives. We have the best vaccines, and we have plenty of them."

Nearly 90% of all people in ICUs in North Carolina last week were unvaccinated, according to the state data.

Hospitals in Harnett, Johnston and Cumberland counties saw an increase in coronavirus-like emergency department visits last week, state data shows.

Those counties also have low vaccination rates and high numbers of coronavirus cases. Less than 50% of people in Johnston and Harnett counties are vaccinated, according to WRAL Data Trackers.

The U.S. Surgeon General said in a White House COVID-19 Task Force meeting on Wednesday that the primary cause for vaccine holdout is misinformation.

"A recent poll indicated that nearly 80% either believe or are unsure about a common COVID-19 myth," said Vivek H. Murthy.

Some common vaccine myths are that the vaccine can affect a woman's fertility, that people who already have had coronavirus don't need a vaccine, or that the vaccine is rushed and cannot be trusted, according to John's Hopkins Medicine.

Another rumor circulating online is that the coronavirus vaccine does not help prevent infection and instead is making people ill. But data from the state health department proves this to be untrue. The vast majority of coronavirus cases reported in the state are among unvaccinated individuals, the data shows. Only around 2% of the state's total reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic are among those who are vaccinated, and 23% of all coronavirus cases last week were among the vaccinated.

"When infections do occur after vaccinated, they are general less severe than infections in people who are unvaccinated, and vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die," the report from the state health department said.

Too many people are unvaccinated and many are not following health experts’ advice to wear masks indoors, Michael Osterholm, head of the center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told CNN.

"I don't know what's going to happen over the next few weeks," Osterholm told CNN. "But I have a feeling it's not going to be pretty,"

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