Here’s how effective COVID-19 vaccines have been in Idaho. (Hint: Very.)

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By AUDREY DUTTON

Idaho Capital Sun

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The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare last week shared a graphic to illustrate how much of Idaho’s COVID-19 activity is among the unvaccinated.

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Idaho’s Public Health Division administrator, was making a point about how getting a coronavirus vaccine can reduce the risk of getting sick with COVID-19, significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and almost eliminate the risk of death.

The data gathered for that graphic were from January, though. Few Idahoans were vaccinated before February, when the vaccine opened up to educators and people age 65 and older.

The Idaho Capital Sun asked Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner to look back to March, to see if the numbers were different. The Idahoans most vulnerable to death and hospitalization from COVID-19 were first in line for vaccination, starting in December, and had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by March.

The percentages of cases, hospitalizations and deaths among the fully vaccinated were each about 1 percentage point higher in that more recent time period. That’s because more people are vaccinated, and the vaccines are not 100% effective on all people.

However, the per-capita rates from March 15 to July 15 confirm that the COVID-19 vaccine has helped to significantly reduce infections, hospitalizations and death from the coronavirus disease.

Here’s how Turner arrived at the rates:

By March 15, 544,547 people in Idaho were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Two months later, that number had increased to 680,073. Turner took the average of that number — 612,310 — to calculate a standardized rate for cases, hospitalizations and deaths among fully vaccinated Idahoans.

To calculate the number of unvaccinated Idahoans, Turner subtracted the 612,310 from the state’s total population — 1,839,106 — to arrive at 1,226,796. That is what she used to calculate a standardized rate for cases, hospitalizations and deaths among non-fully vaccinated people.

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