As Michigan continues to record high numbers of COVID-19 cases, health officials said new data from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) proves that the majority of Michigan residents severely sick with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and MHA are pleading with residents to get vaccinated for their own health, the safety of Michigan’s health care personnel, and to avoid additional strain on health care systems that are already stretched and struggling to respond.
Locally, the McLaren and Munson health systems, which serve the Health Department of Northwest Michigan and other counties across the region, are experiencing similar problems with pressure put on limited bed availability, and an overburdened staff.
“Vaccination is our most powerful tool,” said Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director with the health department.
MDHHS data from Jan. 15-Nov. 19 demonstrates that unvaccinated people account for 85.8% of COVID-19 cases, 87% of hospitalizations, and 86.4% of deaths, Meyerson noted.
Based on recent data from most Michigan health systems, MHA has found that three out of four COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated (76%), 87% of COVID-19 ICU patients are unvaccinated, and 88% of COVID-19 ventilator patients are unvaccinated.
Michigan's number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases reached a new high this week, with 4,291 patients hospitalized. Recently, Michigan reached 70% of residents 16 and older who have received their first vaccine dose, but cases are surging in the unvaccinated population.
MDHHS and the local health department are monitoring for the COVID-19 omicron variant. As of Friday, cases of the variant have been detected in California, Minnesota, Colorado, New York and Hawaii.
Residents are advised that the presence of variants makes it even more important to get vaccinated, including the booster doses to increase protection, wear masks, and take other precautions.
In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing masks — particularly indoors and in crowded areas — other things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones include:
Getting tested for COVID-19, especially before gatherings.
Physically distancing from others and avoiding crowds.
Washing hands frequently with soap and water and cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand rub.
Covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Self-isolating until you recover if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
MDHHS has issued a public health advisory that all Michiganders, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in indoor public settings and those who are not fully vaccinated or who are immunocompromised should avoid large crowds or gatherings.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Health officials: Unvaccinated causing strain on hospitals, health systems