Unvaccinated Residents Are 20 Times More Likely to Die of COVID-19 Than the Vaccinated

Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen is stressing the importance of getting vaccinated.


As the U.S. approaches the two-year mark since COVID-19 first appeared in the country, Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen stressed the importance of getting vaccinated — and highlighted the dangers of refusing the jab. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, Bogen said unvaccinated residents in Allegheny County are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated, and they’re 20 times as likely to die from the virus.

Since June, there have been 2,600 cases among the more than 700,000 vaccinated residents, she said. In the same time, there have been 12,500 cases among the 500,000 unvaccinated. 

Although the more contagious and virulent Delta variant has been linked to a greater number of “breakthrough cases” among the vaccinated population, these instances comprised only 23% of all cases in August. The majority of coronavirus infections are still occurring among the unvaccinated, who are seven to eight times as likely to contract the virus than their vaccinated counterparts.

“To be clear, the vaccines are doing their job,” Bogen said. “They’re very effective. They help protect you from serious illness, hospitalization and death.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported last week that 97% of people who died from COVID-19 since January were not vaccinated.

“This data is further proof that the vaccines are our best tool to protect ourselves against the virus, keep our children learning in schools, keep our workforce in-person, and foster social and economic recovery,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam in a press release. “Every person who chooses to get vaccinated brings us a step closer to moving past the pandemic.”

Daily cases continue to climb throughout the county. On Thursday, the Allegheny County Health Department reported 298 new cases. Of these, 282 are confirmed cases and 16 are probable. Six deaths occurring between Sept. 10 and Sept. 19 were also reported. Three were affiliated with long-term care facilities, and all of the deceased were among the 65+ population. 

As schools resume in-person instruction and extracurriculars, infection rates have also increased within elementary school-age children not yet eligible for the vaccines. The county reported 11 cases among kids 0 to 4, 40 cases among kids 5 to 12 and 22 cases among kids 13 to 18. Bogen said not all of the cases can be linked directly to the classroom.

“Some cases are from school. Some are from extracurricular activities including school sports and other activities,” she said. “Others report traveling and attending parties during incubation periods, so it’s really from many different sources.”

Bogen added that any recommendation to close schools or return to virtual learning will come from the state, not the county.

Since March 14, 2020 there have been 117,844 cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County residents, 8,022 hospitalizations and 2,128 deaths. Those looking for testing sites or vaccine providers can find that information, along with a breadth of other COVID-19 resources, on the county Health Department’s website.

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