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Whatcom County Health Department and PeaceHealth Release New Video, Urge Vaccination as Hospitalizations Rise

| News | COVID-19

A masked nurse looks on

As the recent surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues despite falling case rates, the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) and PeaceHealth urge Whatcom County residents to get vaccinated as the best way to stay safe from severe cases of COVID-19.

About two out of three Whatcom County residents ages 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. The steadily increasing vaccination rate is being reflected in dropping case rates. However, hospitalization rates are increasing toward the peak seen during the January surge. 

The Whatcom County Health Department has calculated 14-day case rates for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As of May 29, the fully vaccinated case rate was 14 per 100,000 and the unvaccinated case rate was 323 per 100,000. WCHD has also compiled 14-day hospitalization rates, based on new admissions of patients for COVID treatment, for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As of May 29, the 14-day rate for fully vaccinated people was 0 per 100,000, and the 14-day rate for unvaccinated people was 21 per 100,000. 

“There are a variety of factors that might be contributing to our high overall hospitalization rates, but what we do know is that the vaccines are very effective in protecting people from getting seriously ill from COVID,” said Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department. “The best way to keep people from being hospitalized with COVID is to have them choose to get the vaccine.”

In a new video from WCHD and PeaceHealth, a doctor and a nurse from the PeaceHealth St. Joseph COVID unit emphasize the crucial role of vaccination as they describe their front-line experience in caring for high numbers of hospitalized people over the past two months. “[Starting in] early April, we saw a surge of very young people, in their 20s and 30s, who are generally healthy and don’t have any other medical problems, who are coming in and becoming very sick from COVID,” said Kelly Matheny, RN. 

“As medical providers, it has been difficult to see hospitalized COVID patient numbers ranging between 20 and 31 this past week. We want to see this number go down to 0,” said Chief Medical Officer and Patient Safety Officer Sudhakar Karlapudi, MBBS, MBA, FACP. “This is a preventable disease. The vaccine is free and can prevent others from becoming so ill.”

The video can be viewed on the Whatcom County YouTube channel.