Unvaccinated vs. vaccinated

This chart shows the breakdown between COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in 2021 comparing unvaccinated Hoosiers to vaccinated Hoosiers. The vast majority of new virus activity has occurred among the state’s unvaccinated population.

The vast majority of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in 2021 remain among unvaccinated Hoosiers.

Even as the delta variant circulated the state more widely this summer and caused more breakthrough cases among vaccinated Hoosiers, the incidence rate is still extremely lopsided.

COVID-19 vaccines — two-shot vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — were created with the goal of primarily preventing severe illness from COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and/or causing death.

Data tracking cases since vaccine deployment largely prove that those goals have largely been met, with new cases much more prevalent among the state’s unvaccinated population as compared to those who had their shots.

So how do vaccinated Hoosiers match up against unvaccinated Hoosiers?

How many vaccinated?In Indiana, about 53.5% eligible Hoosiers age 5 and older are vaccinated against COVID-19, although that percentage has recently dropped from about 60% because children age 5-11 just became eligible for vaccinations and none have been fully vaccinated yet.

Indiana’s population as of the newly released 2020 Census count is 6,785,528. About 3.4 million Hoosiers are now vaccinated, which works out to about 49.8% of all Indiana residents, making the split between vaccinated and unvaccinated Hoosiers about half and half.

Case breakdownSince Jan. 1, Indiana has recorded 516,037 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday.

As of Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health has logged 59,228 breakthrough cases — infections occurring after a person becomes fully vaccinated.

That means of all cases this year, 11.5% have occurred in vaccinated Hoosiers, as compared to 88.5% in unvaccinated Hoosiers.

The delta variant pushed vaccinated Hoosiers harder this summer. In August, before the impacts of that variant really settled in, the split had been about 97% to 3%.

During the delta variant surge, breakthrough cases had run as high as about 20% of all new cases, although considering the split between the state’s vaccinated and unvaccinated had been about 50/50, which still shows a wide disparity between the two groups.

One caveat: The breakthrough rate for COVID-19 is likely higher than reported, as some vaccinated people who contract symptoms may not be seeking out testing on the assumption that cold- and flu-like symptoms are not COVID-19 because they should be protected.

Originally, vaccinated individuals were advised they did not need to seek out testing our quarantine if exposed to someone with COVID-19 and would only need testing if they became symptomatic.

That guidance changed over the summer, so more people were getting tested if they became ill regardless of their vaccination status.

The delta variant is shown to create a larger viral load, meaning that it’s more likely that a vaccinated person can become a carrier and spread it to other people compared to the original strain.

Still, even with some breakthrough infections likely missed, that number would not come close to covering the wide disparity between vaccinated and unvaccinated Hoosiers currently being seen.

Hospitalization breakdownAccording to data from the Regenstrief Institute, which tracks hospitalizations for the state, Indiana has had 32,383 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in 2021.

The state department of health has identified 1,268 individuals with breakthrough cases who have required hospitalization.

Of the total hospitalizations in the state this year, just 4% have been vaccinated Hoosiers, compared to 96% unvaccinated, the biggest disparity among the three metrics.

Also of note is the disparity between hospitalization rates between the two groups.

All-time, 8.3% of Hoosiers known to have contracted COVID-19 have ended up in a hospital.

For 2021, that hospitalization rate has dropped to 6.2%, helped by the fact that older Hoosiers who are more likely to suffer serious illness and therefore most likely to be hospitalized are also the state’s most highly vaccinated cohort.

As of Friday, more than 80% of Hoosiers age 65 and up are fully vaccinated, with rates as high as 85.3% for those in the 70-74 age group.

Among the state’s 59,288 breakthrough cases, only 2.1% have required hospitalization.

That lower hospitalization rate exists despite the fact that the state’s vaccinated population skews much older and, therefore, has a higher baseline risk for complications than the unvaccinated population which skews younger.

Health officials have noted that even when vaccinated people do suffer a breakthrough case, their symptoms generally tend to be milder than a similar person who is not vaccinated against the virus.

Deaths breakdownPrior to the recent surge brought on by the delta variant, Indiana had almost seen deaths from COVID-19 eradicated. In mid-July, the state was averaging only two deaths per day, although that number has risen sharply recently.

Statewide deaths shot sharply upward during the delta variant surge and have started falling some recently, but still remain high. Throughout that surge and still now, those who are still dying from the virus are heavily weighted toward people who did not have immunizations.

Statewide, Indiana has recorded 6,918 deaths attributable to COVID-19 in 2021. Of those, 623 deaths have been among vaccinated patients who experienced a breakthrough case. That’s 9% of all deaths, meaning the other 91% have been among unvaccinated Hoosiers.

Even for Hoosiers who do experience a breakthrough case, their chances of surviving are better.

The known-case death rate among unvaccinated Hoosiers so far this year is 1.4%, compared to 1.1% for vaccinated people who experience a breakthrough infection.

That’s even considering that most of the state’s unvaccinated population is younger, people who have always been less likely to die from the virus if contracted compared to seniors.

Of the 623 breakthrough deaths among vaccinated people in the state, 89% of them were people 65 years old and older.

Among the unvaccinated, deaths have skewed younger overall since the rise of vaccines. In 2020, about 92% of deaths were Hoosiers 60 years old and older, with just 8% younger. Since then, the split has moved to about 89% to 11%. Younger people still remain less at risk from COVID-19 than those who are older, but with fewer highly vaccinated older Hoosiers dying, the ratio has shifted.

Data sources: Cases, deaths, vaccine numbers and breakthrough information gathered from the Indiana State Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine and dashboard vaccine, both located at coronavirus.in.gov. Hospitalization data was sourced from the Regenstrief Institute at regenstrief.org/covid-dashboard.

Editor’s Note: This story, originally published Aug. 15, 2021, has been updated with newer data.

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(2) comments


This is completely inaccurate and very misleading. You show a graph for all of 2001 comparing the data points for unvaxinated v. vaxinated however the vax was not available to everyone on January 1st. This is a prime example of someone who does not understand data and how to properly tell an accurate story. This was also the person who state a few weeks ago that local businesses were effectively lying about there being a labor shortage. Maybe he should read the article by his colleague who actually did the research and spoke to people and realized there has been a labor shortage since the recession in 2008. Please do not publish anything in which he uses statistics as it is quite clear he has no idea on how to analyze data. Again this is a very dangerous and grossly inaccurate conclusion. I hope you delete this article from the website.

Steve Garbacz

On the contrary, I do recognize and understand that the cohort sizes have not been equal looking back all the way to January. Hence why I included a more recent snapshot:

"Even looking more recently amid the new surge brought on by the highly infectious delta variant, the disparity is still wide.

Since Monday, the state recorded 15,407 new cases of COVID-19, while simultaneously recording 1,417 breakthrough cases, 9.2% of this week’s total."

With the vax/unvax cohort now much closer to 50/50, new case loads still skew higher toward the unvaccinated at a rate of about 9-in-10.

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