MILWAUKEE — Advocate Aurora Health released COVID-19 data saying their latest numbers show how critical vaccinations and boosters are to preventing the need for hospitalization.
As of Monday, the health system reported 349 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin and 447 in Illinois. The numbers are up compared to a week ago, as well as last month.
"Numerous times every week I have a patient with severe illness on the ventilator or is about to die," said Dr. Raul Mendoza, a pulmonologist at Advocate Aurora Health in Green Bay.
System leaders released what they found in a sampling of 430 patients hospitalized with the virus in Wisconsin and Illinois. The sample was taken on Nov. 30.
- 74% of them never received a vaccine shot
- 18% are partially vaccinated or due for a booster
- 8% are fully vaccinated and boosted
Out of that smallest group, Advocate Aurora said one-third are immunocompromised.
"Most of these people are older and they're over 65. They're not technically considered immunocompromised. They don't meet our definition of immunocompromised, but we do know that the immune system starts to wear down a little bit after that age," said Dr. Robert Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at AAH.
"Most of our people are older or have some other risk factors for severe disease, though they're not technically immunocompromised, like have cancer, chemotherapy or something like that. It's very unusual for a perfectly healthy young person who's been vaccinated to end up in the hospital, particularly in the ICU."
The doctors join a chorus of medical and health professionals encouraging COVID shots.
Recently, public health officials reported 12 COVID cases tied to a Milwaukee County wedding. Wisconsin's first confirmed omicron case was a Milwaukee County man who was traveling abroad. Health officials said all of these individuals were vaccinated, some had their boosters, and at the time all were mild cases.
"Yes, you can get COVID if you've been vaccinated and boosted, but your chances of getting severely ill or dying from it are extremely low," Dr. Citronberg said.
Dr. Mendoza stressed that getting COVID-19 does not create the same level of immunity as the vaccines.
"That immunity fades rather quickly. And the antibodies kind of not disappeared, but they are they become weak and as the mutants just come in, then the chances for rejection are quite high," Dr. Mendoza said.
Dr. Mendoza said 9 out of 10 people in their ICU and all of the ones on the ventilator are unvaccinated, a trend that hasn't changed since vaccines became available this year.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) also says there are now 21 COVID-19 cases linked to a Milwaukee County wedding.
WI Dept. of Health Services says there are now 21 COVID-19 cases linked to a Milwaukee County wedding. DHS says they don’t know yet how many of the newly identified cases were vaccinated/boosted. Previously, 12 confirmed mild cases were among vaccinated and most had boosters.— Mary Jo Ola (@MaryJoOlaTV) December 13, 2021