GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) on Monday released a report that it says highlights the best tool against serious illness from COVID is to get vaccinated.
The number of people currently hospitalized in Montana due to COVID is 415. The cumulative number of hospitalizations in Montana due to the virus is 7,445. The number of Montanans who have died due to COVID is now 1,973, an increase of 28 since Friday, according to DPHHS.
The DPHHS report reviewed Montana data from February 2021 to September 2021, and found that 89.5% of the cases, 88.6% of hospitalizations, and 83.5% of the deaths were among people who were not fully vaccinated, including those not yet eligible for vaccination.
A news release from DPHHS says the report also examined the eight-week period from July 11, 2021, to September 4, 2021, and found that among all cases reported in persons eligible for vaccine, Montanans who were not fully vaccinated contracted COVID at a rate 4.4 times greater than fully-vaccinated persons.
The COVID-associated hospitalization and death rates were 5.1 and 3.3 times greater, respectively, among not fully-vaccinated persons as compared with fully vaccinated persons.
DPHHS public health experts also noted the impact of COVID disease on younger age groups. Adults aged 18-39 had the highest number of COVID cases compared with other age groups among both the fully vaccinated and unvaccinated. However, adults in this age group who were not fully vaccinated experienced case rates 4.4 times higher than fully vaccinated persons in this age group.
DPHHS data also show a notable age gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with severe COVID related outcomes, with severe outcomes occurring at younger ages among those not fully vaccinated compared with fully vaccinated individuals. In a recent eight-week period, the median age for COVID hospitalizations was 60 years for not fully vaccinated and the median age among those fully vaccinated was 75 years.
COVID infections among fully vaccinated persons are called “breakthrough” cases. A breakthrough COVID case is defined as a COVID infection which occurred 14 or more days after completing the primary COVID vaccine series. Depending on the specific vaccine administered, completion of series could be one or two doses of vaccine.
“In addition to encouraging vaccination, DPHHS encourages all Montana residents and visitors to exercise personal responsibility and take precautionary measures to slow the spread of the virus, including wearing a face covering when appropriate, avoiding large crowds, staying home when not feeling well, and washing hands frequently,” said DPHHS acting State Medical Officer Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek.
“The data are overwhelming. The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection against infection and at preventing severe illness,” said DPHHS director Adam Meier. “Clinical trials have found that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19-related outcomes. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated and still have questions, I encourage all eligible Montanans to consult with their healthcare provider or pharmacist.”
An estimated 53% of eligible Montana residents are now vaccinated, with 485,319 Montanans now considered fully vaccinated. If you want to get vaccinated, contact your county health department, or click here.