Registered nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal protective equipment as she prepares to treat a COVID-19 patient in the in the emergency room at Scotland County Hospital Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Memphis, Mo. The tiny hospital in rural northeast Missouri is seeing an alarming increase in coronavirus cases.
Sarah Boden covers health, science and technology for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
Sarah’s reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday and WBUR's Here and Now. She has won multiple awards, including a regional Edward R. Murrow for her story on a legal challenge to Iowa's felon voting ban.
Brett Sholtis is a health reporter for WITF/Transforming Health. Sholtis is the 2021-2022 Reveal Benjamin von Sternenfels Rosenthal Grantee for Mental Health Investigative Journalism with the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. His award-winning work on problem areas in mental health policy and policing helped to get a woman moved from a county jail to a psychiatric facility. Sholtis is a University of Pittsburgh graduate and a Pennsylvania Army National Guard Kosovo campaign veteran.
(Harrisburg) — Significantly more people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 ended up in the hospital with the virus in September than in previous months, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
These so-called “breakthrough” hospitalizations are caused by a number of factors, including the decrease in antibodies from vaccination over time and an increase in the percentage of vaccinated people, the health department said.
“Vaccines are not 100%. So there always will be some people who will get an infection after being vaccinated. And if 100% of people [in the state] are vaccinated, we’re still going to have some cases, and then those cases will be 100% of the vaccinated,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson.
In September, 26% of the nearly 5,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 were vaccinated, the department said.
State data show that since January, about 7% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized were fully vaccinated; however, a very small percentage of Pennsylvanians were fully vaccinated at the beginning of the year. Combining recent data with that from the winter and spring makes it appear that the vaccine is more effective than it is.
Additionally, the more infectious Delta variant was not detected in the U.S. until March of this year. Johnson said that it now comprises “probably 99%” of current cases.
Average daily COVID-19 cases are up 37% since early September, according to an analysis of state data. Over the past week, an average of 4,862 people have tested positive for the virus each day.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 59% of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated. This number includes children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.