With the new more contagious COVID delta variant, Idaho health experts highly recommend every person eligible to get a vaccine.
BOISE, Idaho — Despite a widely available vaccine, Idaho is seeing one of the lowest vaccine rates among adults in the country.
“Idaho is currently just under 50% of our adult population being fully vaccinated which, admittedly, is 10% below the national average. We see higher vaccination rates among older adults than young adults and teens, and frankly it varies considerably by community,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner.
Dr. Turner says there is a data point that clearly shows why it’s so important to get a vaccine, vaccine status of recent COVID cases and deaths.
“Nearly all of the deaths since January 1st have been among people who are not fully vaccinated when they become ill, and more specifically since May 1st, looking at our data, 95% of the deaths are among people for whom we have no record of them being fully vaccinated before their illness onset,” Turner said.
Dr. David Pate is an Idaho medical expert and retired CEO of the St. Luke’s Health System. Pate says with studies showing increasing cases of the more contagious COVID delta variant in our region, getting fully vaccinated is crucial. Especially for people that are fully embracing weaker COVID protocols.
“Things that people got away with and unfortunately I think this may have emboldened some people that they were out with other people and they never got infected to their knowledge and they may be thinking, well the same thing is going to happen now. That’s not the case, it’s not necessarily true with the delta variant,” Pate said.
With concerns about Idaho vaccine rates and new variants, the Gem State is reporting very few breakthrough cases, those are confirmed cases of COVID in people that are vaccinated. Experts say that fact is another reason why they are encouraging anyone eligible to get vaccinated.
“It’s less than 0.05% of all of the people that have received the vaccine that have ended up being infected,” Turner said.
Pate says experts expected the vaccine to be successful and in-practice they results are very impressive.
“To see that we are having rare breakthrough cases is not the least bit surprising. In fact, the only thing that I’m surprised about is that we are not seeing more than we are, which I think is another signal that this vaccine is highly, highly effective. Really surprisingly so,” Pate said.
Experts say if you are enjoying less COVID restrictions and you are not vaccinated, the best way to help continue that is to get the vaccine if you are eligible. Simply put, every vaccinated person helps the greater cause in the battle against COVID.
“Would we like to see higher vaccine rates, absolutely. Because, the variability among people choosing to receive the vaccine means that we will continue to see hot spots and transmission, we will see clusters popping up,” Turner said.
Dr. Pate says the new delta variant does exhibit differently than other variants.
“Certainly, what we’ve learned with this delta variant is that unlike the previous ones where one shot gave you quite a bit of protection, we’re not seeing nearly so much protection with only one shot of the two-shot series,” Pate said.
Health experts in Idaho and beyond continue to give consistent advice, if you are eligible get the vaccine.
“The bottom line is that a vast majority of the deaths and hospitalizations and cases since May first have been among people who have no record of being fully vaccinated,” Turner said.