Overwhelming number of COVID hospitalizations in Hawaii don’t have booster shot


HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Thursday, Jan. 6, health officials said there were 215 people hospitalized with COVID-19. There were 101 who were vaccinated and 24 people in the ICU.

Hospitals are seeing new trends with the omicron variant compared to the delta surge in summer 2021.

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There are barely any patients who received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, and most patients now are 50-years-old and older.

“Before it was the 30’s, 35-year-olds and people up to 50,” explained Elena Cabatu with the Hilo Medical Center. ”This time around it is showing us that it’s about 50 and above that is the majority of our patients that are coming in with COVID — vaccinated and not vaccinated.”

Statewide health officials are also seeing fewer patients in the ICU or on ventilators.

“That thinking that omicron seems to be milder and doesn’t attack the lungs, as well, is absolutely true in our experience so far.”

Dr. Melinda Ashton, Hawaii Pacific Health executive vice president

On Wednesday, Jan. 5, health officials said about 20% of all COVID hospitalizations were admitted for other issues; As of Jan. 6, there were 19 patients at the Hilo Medical Center.

“There are 10 that have the primary diagnosis of COVID, and nine of the others are incidental COVID, which means they came in for another issue, but upon admission and screening, they tested positive for COVID,” Cabatu explained.

Cabatu added that five are vaccinated and five are not; however because the coronavirus is an infectious disease, the same level of precautions goes into caring for COVID patients whether they are admitted for the virus or asymptomatic being treated for a separate injury.

Maui Health said none of their COVID patients received a booster shot. The Queen’s Health Systems said fewer than 5% of their patients have received their booster, and Hawaii Pacific Health said it is seeing a similar trend.

“We’re seeing more like a quarter to a third of people have had some vaccine, very few are boosted,” explained Dr. Ashton. “Those that we have seen have generally been quite elderly and have other conditions, so they’re fragile, and then the COVID, you know, added on, the boosters are not necessarily enough to protect them.”

Health officials believe cases will peak over the next two weeks of January.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

“And then sometime eight to 13 days after that the hospitalizations will probably reach their peak, and then we’ll drop down, that’s the best-case scenario,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “But the hospitalizations would have been far higher if this was like delta, and we had 30,000 cases just far higher.”

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