Aiken hospital continues to see virus-related deaths; DHEC supports COVID booster shots

·3 min read

Sep. 24—As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep throughout the country, dozens of COVID-19 patients have died at Aiken's hospital.

Over the past month, 55 COVID-19 patients have passed away at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, bringing the total number of virus-related deaths in the hospital's patients to 210.

Across Aiken County, there have been 56 COVID-19 deaths in the past month, and 294 total (confirmed and probable) coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC said 64.8% of those 294 deaths were in people with comorbid conditions.

Aiken County has had 25,397 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 4,229, or almost 17%, of those coming in the past month

As of Sept. 24, there are 37 COVID-19 patients currently at Aiken Regional, with 11 of those patients being in the ICU. Of the 37 patients, 33 are unvaccinated, two are vaccinated and two have an unknown vaccination status.

DHEC has continued to encourage all eligible residents to get vaccinated. As of Sept. 24, almost 60% of eligible South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while around 51% are fully vaccinated. Aiken County's numbers are a bit lower, with almost 54% of eligible county residents receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and around 45% being fully vaccinated.

An individual is considered fully vaccinated 14 days or more after completing their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or their single dose of the Janssen vaccine. Those aged 12 or older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, while the Moderna and Janssen vaccines have been approved for those aged 18 or older.

DHEC said it is important to note that breakthrough cases are expected with any type of vaccine. While vaccines can prevent catching a virus, the main goal of inoculation is preventing severe illness if the virus is contracted.

These breakthrough cases have accounted for a minuscule amount of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, with 0.0423% of fully vaccinated people being hospitalized and/or dying due to COVID-19.

Residents who wish to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can visit vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov to find a location near them.

Vaccine booster shots

For those who are fully vaccinated, a vaccine booster shot could be recommended soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer brand COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for certain high-risk populations Friday. DHEC said it supports this recommendation.

In part, the recommendation states that people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their initial shots.

People aged 50 — 64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a Pfizer booster shot at least 6 months after their original shots, while people aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their initial shots, based on their individual benefits and risks, according to the recommendation.

The CDC also recommended people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a Pfizer booster shot at least six months after their original shots, based on their individual benefits and risks.

The FDA and CDC are currently evaluating the need for booster doses for those who received the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the single-shot Janssen vaccine. DHEC will provide details on those efforts once more information becomes available.

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