Opinion | In an article published in The Vaccine Reaction on Aug. 29, 2021 titled “Is it Really a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated?” I wrote about the claim by U.S. health officials that 97 percent of people in the United States who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated,1 specifically noting that the director of the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, MD, helped popularize this claim when she said during a White House press briefing on July 16:
This claim gave the impression that vaccinated people represented only three percent of those being hospitalized with COVID, suggesting that the COVID vaccines were working spectacularly well. In fact, U.S. government leaders, health officials and most health care professionals held this up as proof that the vaccines were effective in keeping people from getting seriously ill from COVID and requiring medical care.
This, in turn, led to the rise and coining of the phrase, “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated” by President Biden and Dr. Walensky. That catch phrase fueled public perception that the blame for the continuation of the pandemic lies squarely and solely on the shoulders of unvaccinated people.3 4 5 6
CDC Creates Deceptive Narrative About Unvaccinated People and the Pandemic
This blame game has been elevated to new heights by the corporate media, with headlines like “It’s OK to blame the unvaccinated—they are robbing the rest of us of our freedoms” and “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough In the United States, this pandemic could be almost over by now. The reasons it’s still going are pretty clear.” and “Alabama governor says ‘it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks’ as pandemic worsens.”7 8 9
Of course, the problem is that Dr. Walensky neglected to tell the American people that the 97 percent figure she cited was based on extremely misleading information. For all practical purposes, she admitted this at a White House press briefing on Aug. 5 when she confirmed that the data used to come up with the 97 percent figure were “data that were from analyses in several states from January through June and didn’t reflect the data that we have now from the Delta variant.”1 10
This revelation by the CDC director put a big wrench in her deceptive “pandemic of the unvaccinated” narrative because the reality was that the vast portion of Americans were unvaccinated during the six-month period she cited. As I pointed out in my article:
As of Jan. 1, 2021, only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population had been fully vaccinated. By Feb. 1, the figure had risen to 1.8 percent of the population. By Mar. 1, it 7.6 percent. By Apr. 1, it was 16.8 percent. By May 1, it was 30.9 percent. On June 1, 40.6 percent of the U.S. population had been fully vaccinated. By the end of June, it was 46.3 percent.1
The reason there were so many more people hospitalized for COVID during January-June had little or nothing to do with whether or not they received a COVID shot. There were simply many more unvaccinated people than vaccinated, so naturally you would expect to see many more of them hospitalized than vaccinated people. That’s just common sense.
On Jan. 1, 2021, there were 125,047 people hospitalized for COVID in the U.S. Almost all of those people were likely unvaccinated. Why? Because only 0.5 percent of the population had been vaccinated. On Feb. 1, there were 93,536 people hospitalized for COVID. Why? Because at that point only 1.8 percent of the population had been vaccinated. Through at least April 2021, relatively few people in the U.S. had been vaccinated. Even by the end of June, less than half of the population had been vaccinated.1
In short, it was not possible to make any rational, fair assessment of the effect of the COVID vaccines during the first half of the year—notably that the vaccines were responsible for keeping people out of the hospital. Yet, that is precisely what the CDC and the Biden administration deliberately led the public to believe.
When one explains to people that this exercise in smoke and mirrors that has succeeded in obscuring the truth, the typical reaction has been a look of perplexion. It is difficult for many people to accept such a degree of manipulation by public health officials. Politicians? Yes. But not scientists and doctors. So the tendency of those who are faced with the facts has been to say, “Well, okay… but look at all the hospitals reporting that they’re overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID patients. How do you explain that?”
Hospitals Report High Percentages of Unvaccinated COVID Patients
It’s true. There are many reports from hospitals around the country saying that 85 to 95 percent of patients currently being admitted are unvaccinated. During the first week of September, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Sumner Regional Medical Center, Maury Regional Medical Center and Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Tennessee reported that 90, 93, 95 and 95 percent respectively of their COVID cases were among unvaccinated people.11
In North Carolina, UNC Health reported that, among its network of hospitals, 90 percent of its COVID patients were unvaccinated.12 In Utah, Park City Hospital reported two weeks ago that more than 90 percent of its COVID patients were unvaccinated.13 St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported that about 85 percent of its patients were unvaccinated.14
Hospitals in Comal County, Texas reported in August that 98 percent of its COVID patients were unvaccinated.15
In Oregon, hospitals affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health & Services reported in August that 90 percent of their COVID patients on life support in their intensive care units (ICUs) were unvaccinated. Legacy Health hospitals reported 97 percent of its COVID patients in ICUs were unvaccinated.16
This is the story that has been observed at many hospitals in the past two months with more than half of the U.S. population having been vaccinated. As of Sept. 22, 54.8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.17
Now it is much harder to argue against the role of vaccines in dramatically reducing the incidence of hospitalizations. When more than 85-90 percent of the people being admitted to hospitals with COVID symptoms have not been vaccinated, the judgment seems clear enough.
How Accurate is the Hospital Data on Unvaccinated COVID Patients?
Of course, this assumes that the data on vaccination status being compiled and reported by hospitals is accurate. How exactly does a hospital determine the vaccination status of a person who has been admitted for COVID?
According to physician assistant Deborah Conrad, PA-C, MSHS at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in New York:
On admission [to the hospital], there is no requirement to ask about the vaccine. Our system is set up so that if you’re fully vaccinated in our health system somewhere… one of our clinics, or somebody has put it in in one of our outpatient clinics, it’ll automatically be put into the electronic health record. But if you’re vaccinated at a CVS pharmacy or something outside of the system, that’s not going to be put in that system unless you ask… So it’ll list you as unvaccinated in the system. Again, it’s not a question on admission that is asked.
If this is true and hospitals are relying on the medical records they have in their systems to determine the vaccination status of someone who has been admitted for COVID, then it is easy to see how some, if not many, patients who were vaccinated outside a particular hospital’s network would be listed as unvaccinated, even though they were fully vaccinated.
There is no guarantee that people who were vaccinated at a pharmacy, a doctor’s office, a nursing home, a school or the parking lot of a stadium would be listed as vaccinated in the medical records of a hospital they go to for treatment of COVID symptoms unless they ask someone at the hospital to check and make sure their vaccination status is correct. Some people might do this, while others (particularly emergency cases) would not.
Could this skew the data being reported by hospitals? Could the sizeable discrepancy in the number of vaccinated versus unvaccinated people being hospitalized for COVID be the result of poor record-keeping caused by a disjointed system of tracking vaccinations?
It is worth asking if this could be another case of smoke and mirrors.
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Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.
Click here to view References:
1 Cáceres M. Is it Really a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated? The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 29, 2021.
2 White House. Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials. July 16, 2021.
3 Kalter L, Ellis R. CDC: COVID-19 Is a ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’. WebMD July 16, 2021.
4 Schnell M. Fauci says COVID-19 is now an ‘outbreak among the unvaccinated’. The Hill July 25, 2021.
5 Walker M. White House Officials: ‘This Remains a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’. Medpage Today Sept. 10, 2021.
6 White House. Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic. Sept. 9, 2021.
7 Marcotte A. It’s OK to blame the unvaccinated—they are robbing the rest of us of our freedoms. Salon Aug. 12, 2021.
8 Frum D. Vaccinated America Has Had Enough In the United States, this pandemic could be almost over by now. The reasons it’s still going are pretty clear. The Atlantic July 23, 2021.
9 Forgey Q. Alabama governor says ‘it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks’ as pandemic worsens. Politico July 23, 2021.
10 White House. Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials. Aug. 5, 2021.
11 Reese B. VUMC reports more than 90% of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. WKRN.com Sept. 9, 2021.
12 McCreary J. UNC Health: Unvaccinated make up 90 percent of its hospitalized COVID patients. WNCT 9 Sept. 10, 2021.
13 Brough R. Park City Hospital Dr. Reports That Unvaccinated COVID Patients Can Be Abusive. KPCW Sept. 14, 2021.
14 Elamroussi A. Surge of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients straining hospitals. WTOP Sept. 12, 2021.
15 Knight S. 98% of COVID-19 patients in Comal County hospitals are unvaccinated. 16 Templeton A. Oregon’s hospitals are overwhelmed. Here’s what they’re asking you to do. OPB Aug. 25, 2021.
17 Adams K. States ranked by percentage of population fully vaccinated: Sept. 22. Becker’s Hospital Review Sept. 22, 2021.
18 NPI Profile. Deborah A Conrad PA NPI 1437180981.
19 Freshly Minted. “These Patients Deserve to Be Heard”—VAERS Whistleblower. YouTube Sept. 18, 2021.