DULUTH, Ga. - From mid-January to mid-June of this year, nearly every Georgian hospitalized or killed by COVID either had not been vaccinated or did not yet have full vaccine protection from the virus.
That’s the analysis from the FOX 5 I-Team of data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
"I just challenge people to look at the data, " said Dr. Audrey Arona, director of the Gwinnett-Newton-Rockdale health department. "This vaccine is so much more effective than other vaccines we’ve seen before."
The three currently approved vaccines for COVID were never touted as being 100 percent effective. Yet their track record in Georgia comes quite close in the areas where it really counts: keeping you alive and keeping you out of the hospital.
A list of GA breakthrough cases through June 15.
We began our analysis by looking at all cases where a fully vaccinated Georgian still suffered serious health issues or died from COVID. Those are called breakthrough cases.
The CDC classifies a breakthrough case as one where the subject tested positive at least two weeks after their final vaccine dose. That’s considered the time where a vaccinated person should be fully protected.
In Georgia, the earliest that could happen would be January 19, 2021, because the state only started vaccinations in mid-December 2020.
According to data reported to the Georgia DPH from hospitals and other sources, between January 19 and June 15, 64 fully-vaccinated Georgians were hospitalized with COVID. Another 14 died.
But consider during the same five-month period, 10,800 Georgians were hospitalized; 7091 died.
That translates into 99.4% of all Georgians hospitalized who either was not vaccinated or had not been fully protected. For deaths, it’s even greater: 99.8% died unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
"The statistics show that severe disease, hospitalization, death is so much lower once you’re fully vaccinated," stressed Arona.
Dr. Audrey Arona heads up the Gwinnett-Newton-Rockdale Health Department. Her main vaccination site in Gwinnett has seen demand drop from 2500/day to barely that many in an entire week.
The most recent data for May 2021 is just as encouraging. DPH reports 490 deaths that month, three of them breakthrough cases. That averages out to 99.3% of the deaths involving Georgians who either had not been vaccinated… or had not yet built up enough protection after getting the vaccine. For May hospitalizations, it's 98.8%.
"That’s pretty effective," said 17-year-old Cameron Gillian. "That’s why I’m here."
The Gwinnett County high school rising senior showed up at the old Sears at Gwinnett Place Mall to get his second shot. His mother Angie Atkins already got both.
"I wanted him to wait," she explained. "Because he’s young."
Cameron Gillian and his mom Angie Atkins said the impressive vaccine numbers show the value in getting fully protected.
Like the rest of Georgia, more than half of Gwinnett County’s population has yet to receive even one dose.
Just two months ago, the old Sears location had long lines and required appointments booked weeks out.
Today, a lone worker sits at the main door, often with little to do except wait for someone to walk up. Where once they vaccinated 2500 people each day, now they’re lucky to get that in an entire week.
"We have a tremendous amount of vaccine and not as many people coming to us for vaccine," said Arona. "We talked about the vaccine being a game-changer. And it is a game-changer with those statistics."
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