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99% of Virginians who died from COVID-19 since January were unvaccinated
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99% of Virginians who died from COVID-19 since January were unvaccinated

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Fredericksburg During the Pandemic (copy)

Registered Nurse Tami Jeffries prepares a dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December.

More than 99 percent of Virginians who died from COVID-19 since late January were not fully vaccinated, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Health.

On Friday, the state released a new dashboard that tracks cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status. Information is provided for the state and its five sprawling health regions—not by individual localities or for the 35 health districts such as the Rappahannock Area Health District, which covers the Fredericksburg region.

The dashboard is available at vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/covid-19-cases-by-vaccination-status.

The data shows that 99 percent of cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurred in unvaccinated people. The newly released statistics prompted the health department to call vaccinations “the most important strategy to stop the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release. “Every time an immune person is exposed, the chain of transmission is broken, slowing the spread from person to person.”

The new dashboard also shows the number of breakthrough incidents—when people become infected even after they’ve been vaccinated.

Since January, 17 fully vaccinated Virginians have died and 71 have been hospitalized.

In addition, 1,063 fully vaccinated people in the state have been sickened by the virus this year. That’s out of 4.4 million Virginians who are fully vaccinated.

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The state defines people who are not fully vaccinated as those who have not received any inoculations, those who weren’t vaccinated according to federal recommendations or those who have only gotten the first of the two shots required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

Breakthrough cases are defined as people who develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 two weeks or more after they’ve been fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

Virginia’s statistics are similar to a recent analysis of government data by the Associated Press involving cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide in May. According to the report, more than 99 percent of deaths that month were among unvaccinated people. Of the 18,000 Americans who died, 150 of them had been vaccinated, according to the AP report.

At the time, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that ongoing deaths are “particularly tragic.” She said the vaccine is so effective that nearly every COVID-19 death among adults “is, at this point, entirely preventable.”

To date, 71 percent of Virginia adults and 59 percent of the state’s entire population have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

Rates are lower in the Rappahannock Area Health District, which includes Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford. As of Tuesday, 56.5 percent of adults and 46 percent of the overall population have gotten at least one shot, according to state data.

State vaccination rates include doses given by the federal government to members of the military and those who work for federal agencies. However, federal doses are not counted in the localities where service members and federal workers live.

Local health officials believe their vaccination numbers would be higher if the federal doses were included in the local count.

“Given the number of commuters that we have, and the number of active and former military in the area, we just know that’s impacting our numbers a little bit,” said Allison Balmes–John, spokesperson for the local health district.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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