The White House recently started referring to the COVID-19 pandemic as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” in reference to high numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated people while vaccines are widely available.
Hospital workers and their acquaintances have shared viral posts to social media with claims that they’ve treated unvaccinated COVID-19 patients almost exclusively over vaccinated patients. They say it’s evidence the vaccines curb the disease’s severity and urge everyone to get vaccinated.
Are nearly all of the people recently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States unvaccinated?
Yes. Statements and data released by hospitals, the CDC and nonprofit health organizations all say at least 95% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past several months are unvaccinated. This has remained true even with the rise of the Delta variant in recent months.
WHAT WE FOUND
Nonprofit health policy organization Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published data for COVID-19 hospitalizations in vaccinated and unvaccinated people for 18 states plus the District of Columbia. KFF’s data show at least 95% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in every state recorded are not fully vaccinated. Alaska had the smallest proportion of unvaccinated COVID-19 hospital patients at 95.02% and New Jersey had the largest proportion at 99.93%.
The Cleveland Clinic released data in May that found 99% of Cleveland Clinic’s 4,300 hospitalized COVID-19 patients between January and mid-April were not fully vaccinated.
The UC Davis Medical Center said most of its patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and 97% of patients nationally are unvaccinated as recently as July 22.
A July 27 news alert from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that from January to May, more than 97% of 32,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations were not fully vaccinated. That dataset exclusively analyzed patients whose vaccination status was known.
The CDC has found that of the more than 163 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, only 6,239 are reported to have been hospitalized with COVID-19. That means 0.004% of the fully vaccinated population in the U.S. has been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to CDC data.
The sources above note “fully vaccinated” individuals are people who have received all of the recommended doses of their vaccine and are more than two weeks removed from their final dose. An individual is considered unvaccinated if they are hospitalized between receiving their first and second dose of a two-dose vaccine.
All of the sources began tracking their data back in January when less than 1% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, according to data aggregation site USA Facts. The U.S. fully vaccinated 25% by mid-April, when the Cleveland Clinic study ended. The fully vaccinated population grew to 30% by the beginning of May and reached 40% by the end of the month. The U.S. reached the milestone of fully vaccinating half the population by the end of July.
But even if half the population had been fully vaccinated since January, KFF’s and the CDC’s data makes it clear that the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients would still be unvaccinated.
In jurisdictions KFF has data from, 0.00% to 0.06% of the fully vaccinated population has gone to the hospital for COVID-19. Eight of 19 states report virtually 0% of the fully vaccinated population has been hospitalized for COVID-19, nine of 19 states report 0.01% of the fully vaccinated population has been hospitalized, one state reports 0.02% of the fully vaccinated population has been hospitalized and Arkansas is the outlier at 0.06%. The CDC’s data suggests the nationwide hospitalization rate for fully vaccinated people is about 0.004%.
A CDC graph states the most recent reported cumulative hospitalization rate for the entire U.S. is just over 584 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. The CDC notes these rates are "likely to be underestimated" because test availability and provider testing practices might lead to missed COVID-19 hospitalizations. Based on the CDC's figures of fully vaccinated Americans and COVID-19 hospitalizations among those people, just under four fully vaccinated people per 100,000 have been reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19.