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Mercy Medical Center seeing impact of boosters lead to fewer vaccinated people hospitalized with COVID-19

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:43 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Doctors are stressing the importance of vaccines, both COVID-19 and the flu, ahead of the holidays. Iowa’s COVID-19 positivity rate is rising, and has been for the last 10 weeks.

With many health officials concerned over the rise in COVID-19 cases and the holidays just a few days away, some doctors are seeing a few reassuring signs.

Dr. Tony Myers, vice president of system quality, risk and medical affairs with Mercy Medical Center, said they’re seeing fewer fully vaccinated patients be hospitalized with COVID-19 since the approval of booster shots.

Dr. Myers said the hospital was seeing 20-30 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations be fully-vaccinated people. In the last 10-15 days, those numbers have gone down to 5-10 percent - and he credits boosters shots. “One of the things I’ve been telling my patients and everyone who will listen is the importance of getting the booster, especially with the holidays coming up, it really appears to be having an impact in preventing the hospitalizations,” said Dr. Myers. “In the first 8 months of this year, we hardly had anybody get admitted that was vaccinated. And now we’re getting back to that. Now, it’s just again to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

It’s a big difference from this time last year, when Dr. Myers said Mercy hit a max of 60 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. Right now, they have half that, at 27.

Dr. Terry Brennen with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is concerned about flu cases, as well as a possible surge in COVID-19. At this time last year, UIHC only had one confirmed case of influenza. Just last week, it reported 150 cases. “Generally influenza, unlike COVID, the people that do poorly are the youngest and oldest in our population, as well as those who have other medical conditions,” Dr. Brennen said.

Dr. Myers said he is concerned about the numbers UIHC is seeing. But, so far this year, Mercy isn’t seeing an early spike, with only 5 cases of flu in the last two weeks. UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids has only seen 4 the entire season.

Still, many health officials continue to urge the importance of getting vaccinated before heading home for the holidays. “Get the booster. Even if you get it today, it might help this weekend some. You won’t see the full protection until a couple of weeks, but that will be before Christmas,” Dr. Myers said.

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