Here’s why Triangle hospitals are posting patient vaccination breakdowns on social media

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Our local hospitals want you to know how many of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Each of the three main health care systems in the Triangle — WakeMed, UNC Health and Duke Health — have published recent breakdowns of their patient totals by vaccine status.

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, says one of the points is to emphasize how difficult the thousands of unvaccinated patients across the state are making it for everyone else — and to provide even more tangible evidence to persuade the millions of holdouts across the state to get the shots.

“The fabric of our health care system is ripping under the strain of the unvaccinated COVID patients,” Wohl said. “And it’s hurting not only COVID care but all care.”

Calling the situation “a catastrophe,” he says people who aren’t in hospitals don’t understand how difficult the situation is inside them.

“People are kind of insulated from it,” Wohl said.

WakeMed was the first to take to social media, posting last week that as of Sept. 1, the unvaccinated made up 88 percent of COVID patients in the hospital, 90 percent of those in intensive care and 87 percent of those on ventilators.

UNC Health and Duke Health each published their updates this week, with UNC Health saying 90 percent of COVID patients in beds, 96 percent of those in the ICU and 95 percent of those on ventilators did not get vaccinated.

The same trend is apparent at Duke Health, with 87 percent of all COVID patients, 92 percent of those in intensive care and 90 percent of those on ventilators were unvaccinated.

The state Department of Health and Human Services listed nearly 3,800 COVID patients in hospitals Friday, and Wohl says he’s not seeing any sign at all that the increasing patient counts are slowing.

(Source: Duke Health.)

“It’s climbing. It’s not plateauing,” Wohl said. “Our models show that it won’t peak until maybe the end of this month, and that may be optimistic. And then when it does start to go down, it may take a long time, a gradual decline before we start to see some meaningful differences. So this is really dispiriting to many of us. We don’t see an end in sight.”

The agency does not regularly break down that count by vaccination status, but did say in July that 99 percent of them were unvaccinated.

Those numbers might make more of an impact coming from the hospitals themselves as opposed to a state agency.

“I think UNC Health is North Carolina health,” Wohl said. “We’re across the state. UNC Health is not one hospital. It’s a series of hospitals … and we’re no different than the other systems. Our data are reflective of what everyone else is going through right now as well. So let’s just be clear: There’s no exceptions. Here, we are just like everyone else and we’re going through a really, really tough time.”


CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.


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