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Bioscience-Medicine

University Health Says New Patient Stats Prove COVID Vaccine Efficacy

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Bexar County
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Sample billboard shown at commissioners meeting to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. Sixty-three percent of eligible residents 12 and older have been vaccinated, but vaccination rates have only been inching up during the last couple of months.

CEO of University Health George Hernandez said hospitalizations within the public health system show why it's important to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Hernandez told Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday that UH alone has taken in 344 coronavirus patients since June 1, and 319 of them were unvaccinated. He said of the 67 in ICU, only four were vaccinated.

He said the average ICU stay for an unvaccinated patient is six days, but the stay for the vaccinated patients was only two days.

"Unfortunately we've had, and sadly I would say, 11 deaths at University Health because of COVID since the first of June, but all 11 have been unvaccinated," Hernandez said. "Every single one of them."

County Judge Nelson Wolff said the current surge of cases is projected to be worse than those of this past winter and last summer. San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District reported 1,197 were hospitalized with the virus as of Monday.

Hernandez said the hospitalized patients are younger than those of previous surges with a combined average age of 46. He warned younger people to get vaccinated as the delta variant is more contagious and can be spread more rapidly that previous variants.

In other action, commissioners approved a $319,000 billboard campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated. The billboards will be concentrated in unincorporated areas of the county and in suburban cities. Some county commissioners expressed disappointment with Metro Health for focusing its billboard campaign only within Loop 410.

Commissioners also directed staff to offer a health insurance premium reimbursement of up to $1,000 to county employees and a reimbursement of up to $500 for county employees outside the county health plan for getting vaccinated.

The county's 5,000 employees would have to show proof of full vaccination by Oct. 15 to be eligible for the reimbursement.

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