As eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine continues to expand, WellSpan Health continues to care for a significant number of patients with severe illness related to the virus. However, WellSpan experts say there is hope as recent hospitalizations show only a small number of those vaccinated require a hospital stay.
The most recent data shows a striking difference between hospitalized patients who have been fully vaccinated and those who have not. Of the 476 COVID-19 patients admitted to WellSpan hospitals in April, only seven had received both doses of the vaccine before they were admitted. Of that group, four patients were fully vaccinated more than two weeks before they were hospitalized, and each had severely suppressed immune systems.
“To make an even stronger case for the vaccine, three patients in the vaccinated group were still inside the waiting period needed for the vaccine to be most effective. Others had leukemia, organ transplants or other conditions that made them immunocompromised,” explained Dr. Tony Aquilina, executive vice president and chief physician executive, WellSpan Health.
Aquilina says there is significance in the numbers that show more than 50 percent of those who were not vaccinated or partially vaccinated and hospitalized for COVID-19, were under the age of 65.
“We are still seeing people in our communities who are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The takeaway here is that this is further evidence that COVID-19 vaccination works,” added Aquilina. “We need to continue to encourage our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated. The vaccine has demonstrated itself to be safe and remarkably effective.”
To date, WellSpan has administered more than 325,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
“We want to break down the barriers that are preventing our community members from getting the vaccine, so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy.” said Aquilina. “Most recently, we’ve started offering walk-in vaccinations at several of our vaccination sites, to make the vaccination process even easier for those who wish to receive one.”
WellSpan’s vaccination effort also extends deep into our communities, with mobile vaccination teams focused on bringing it to at-risk neighborhoods, homebound patients, and other groups that may experience vaccine hesitancy.
WellSpan is following the phased rollout of the vaccine as outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and has been vaccinating anyone 12* and older as part of phase two.
*Currently, the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use in people 12 and older. Patients younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Vaccinations can be scheduled through MyWellSpan or by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-851-3641.
Community members are encouraged to visit WellSpan.org/covid19/covid-19-vaccine to learn more about WellSpan’s vaccination process.
Read this story in Spanish by clicking here.