FORT WORTH, Texas — Editor's note: The video above is from a previous segment.
Unvaccinated Texans died from COVID-19 at 40 times the rate of vaccinated Texans and were 45 times more likely to test positive for the disease in 2021, according to a new study from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
DSHS reviewed vaccination, death and tests records from Jan. 15 to Oct. 1 to come up with the figures.
“We have millions and millions of records that we had to go through for this analysis,” said Dr. Jennifer Shuford, DSHS’s chief epidemiologist.
According to the review, 7.7% of deaths and 3% of positive cases in the January - October time frame were in fully-vaccinated Texans.
“We know that there's all these bad outcomes for actually getting COVID-19, but the complications from the vaccine are very few and impact very few people,” Shuford said. “What we hope is that people across Texas will understand the threat of COVID-19.”
Vaccination rates have been lowest in those who are the youngest, but the younger Texans have seen the biggest benefits from being vaccinated.
There were 339 unvaccinated deaths in Texans 18-29 years old and less than 5 full vaccinated deaths in that age group, making unvaccinated Texans in that age group 99 times more likely to die from the disease.
Kids 12-17 who were unvaccinated tested positive at 65 times the rate of fully vaccinated kids during the January to October study timeframe.
“The protection that we're seeing looks stronger even in in the young adults than it does in the older individuals,” Shuford said. “Even young people benefit from these vaccines when it comes to risk of death that they might be benefiting to a larger degree than older populations.”
DSHS estimates 20-25% of Texans don’t have any immunity from COVID-19, and while trends are improving, there’s concern about another spike and stress on healthcare systems in the midst of flu season.
“Our trends are moving in the right direction, but what we’ve also noticed is our cases aren’t as low as they were right before this big surge,” Shuford said. “We will continue to see COVID-19 circulate and even potentially surges in that disease activity until we can get more people, hopefully vaccinated.”
Vaccination is also beneficial even for those who have already had COVID-19. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people with a prior COVID-19 infection were 5.49 times more likely to end up hospitalized with a reinfection that those who were fully vaccinated but had no prior infection.
A total of 80.6% of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Texas lags slightly behind that average at 76% of adults, according to CDC data.
“We're just not giving up and we know the benefits of these vaccines and how they can improve people's health,” Shuford said.
There are nearly 20,000 Texans a day deciding to start their COVID-19 vaccination effort, but the state is trying to increase that number. Shuford said while the new study will hopefully convince some to get vaccinated, she recommends anyone on the fence or holding out speak to their doctor to discuss the possible benefits.
“You know that your health care provider has a vested interest in your health and your wellbeing and nodes you and your health conditions and can give you the best advice possible,” Shuford said.