Vaccine weekly Sept. 3

This past week, about 82% of new COVID-19 cases recorded across the state were among unvaccinated Hoosiers, compared to 18% occurring as breakthrough cases among people who received their shots.

INDIANAPOLIS — Although COVID-19 activity has continued rising, new vaccination numbers both locally and statewide have stayed mostly flat for about the last month and a half.

This week was no exception, as both the four-county area and state as a whole saw just about the same number of people come in for first doses of a vaccine.

Looking ahead, however, as Indiana’s total vaccination rate creeps up slowly, the northeast corner counties are falling even further behind the statewide average.

This past week, Indiana had 44,449 Hoosiers come in for the first dose of a vaccine, whether that’s a two-shot Pfizer of Moderna vaccine or a one-shot Johnson & Johnson shot.

That’s down a little from last week’s nearly 47,000 people, but weekly vaccine numbers have been holding steady in a range of about 43,000-47,000 first-timers per week for the past six consecutive weeks.

Last week, Pfizer received full Food and Drug Administration approval for its two-dose vaccine for all people 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still being used under an Emergency Use Authorization, with full approval pending.

Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said the approval led to about a 10% jump in vaccine registrations after it was announced, although the state hasn’t seen any significant in its weekly shot numbers since.

Locally, 654 residents in the four-county area got shots, almost identical to 648 people the previous week.

Vaccine numbers were up a little in DeKalb and Noble counties — both of which are experiencing larger upticks in COVID-19 case numbers than their northern neighbors — while LaGrange and Steuben counties were down a little.

Noble County led the way with 260 first-timers, followed by DeKalb County with 214, Steuben County with 119 and LaGrange County at 61.

Statewide, 54.7% of eligible Hoosiers age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, with about 46% of the total population — children younger than 12 can’t be vaccinated yet as no shot has been approved for kids yet — fully vaccinated.

Vaccine rates in the local area are much lower and the gap is growing.

Steuben County remains highest at 45.8%, followed by DeKalb County at 41.8%, Noble County at 40.4% and LaGrange County last in the state at 26.3%.

Looking at the difference between percentages of people who have received at least one shot versus those already fully vaccinated reveals how percentages are likely to change over the next month, since people have to wait before receiving a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which make up the vast majority of vaccines in use across the state.

That differential shows that northeast Indiana is going to continue to fall further behind the statewide average.

While currently 59.3% of eligible Hoosiers have had a least one shot — a 4.6 percentage point increase off its current full vaccination rate — local counties will only see their rates increase between about 1.4 points in LaGrange County at the low end to 3.2 points in Noble County at the higher end.

Lower overall vaccine rates mean the region will likely remain more susceptible to ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the highly infectious delta variant which has become the dominant strain in the state, as the majority of new cases continue to be diagnosed in unvaccinated Hoosiers.

Indiana is averaging about 4,250 new cases of COVID-19 per day, which is an increase from around 3,800 cases per day last week. However, that increase of about 12% is smaller than previous weeks, when Indiana has been consistently posting 30%-plus increases week-over-week, suggesting a peak or plateau in activity may be approaching.

While cases increases may be slowing, hospitalizations and deaths aren’t yet.

Hospitalizations rose to 2,443 patients in care, up from 2,186 a week ago, while average daily deaths have also risen from about 20 per day to more than 26 per day this past week.

Most of the new activity is still occurring among unvaccinated Hoosiers.

Last week, about 82% of total cases were recorded among unvaccinated Hoosiers, as compared to 18% as breakthrough cases among vaccinated people.

About 93% of new hospitalizations were unvaccinated Hoosiers as well as 89% of new deaths over the past seven days.

The hospitalization rate for unvaccinated Hoosiers was 4.35%, three times higher than 1.43% among vaccinated patients experiencing a breakthrough. Death rates were also higher for unvaccinated people at 0.67% of known cases, compared to 0.42% seen in breakthrough cases.

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