As more people in the Quad Cities get vaccinated against COVID-19, hospital systems in our area are seeing a decrease in hospitalizations related to the virus.
Genesis Health System administrators said the Quad Cities is in a much better place than at this time one year ago.
Just back in November 2020, Genesis had about 130 patients in the hospital on any given day, according to Dr. Kurt Andersen, the chief medical officer at Genesis.
Last week on Thursday, June 17, 2021, Genesis had three patients in the hospital with the virus across its system, according to Andersen.
Andersen attributes that dramatic decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations to an increase in vaccinations against the virus.
Children under the age of 12 are still unable to get a vaccine. Anyone 12 years and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. Anyone age 18 and older can receive either the Johnson and Johnson or Moderna vaccine.
Because children under the age of 12 cannot receive that vaccine, Andersen said that age group is another way for the COVID-19 virus to spread, even though a child's symptoms may be less severe, Andersen said.
"So that's the challenge when we look at how we control this virus in our community and across our country, is how do we get enough people vaccinated so the virus can't spread," said Andersen.
Andersen said most of the people coming to the hospital in the Genesis Health System are people who have not received a vaccine.
"And we're talking a magnitude of almost 800, or more than 700 patients, unvaccinated, hospitalized since we started vaccination, and the number of patients who have been vaccinated and hospitalized is a handful," said Andersen. "I mean, we're talking 10 or 12 patients."
The average age of people going to the hospital with COVID-19 is dropping as well. Genesis is now seeing patients in the 40 to 50 year old range with the virus more frequently, according to Andersen.
That decrease in age range is due to more of the older population receiving a vaccine, according to Andersen. He said the focus should still be on people who are eligible to be vaccinated right now.
In terms of kids under the age of 12, who are not eligible for a vaccine as of now, Andersen said it could take several months before emergency use authorization is granted for a vaccine for that age group.
Andersen said trials are ongoing for the younger age group, but those trials may take longer to complete. That's thanks to decreasing COVID-19 case counts and decreasing COVID-19 hospitalizations in our area, which prolongs the trial process, Andersen said.
"The good news is we've had less infections in our country," said Andersen. "The bad news is it makes it hard for them to get those studies done because there's just less prevalence of the disease. So, it may take a little longer because of the good news we're seeing our infection rates decline."
Andersen said schools may need to consider bringing back some of the COVID-19 mitigations for the upcoming school year, including masks and spreading students out in the classroom.
But, Andersen said there is still time before needing to make some of those decisions, allowing for some added time to review any results from vaccine trials.
Genesis is also starting to reevaluate some of their policies with the lower case counts and hospitalizations. Andersen said Genesis hospitals will continue requiring masks, but staff are looking at expanding their visitor policy soon.