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Hawaii health officials say data shows power in the vaccine

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii leaders said they are making decisions about fighting the pandemic based on science and data, and epidemiologists said the data shows the power of the vaccine as well as the unproportionate devastation the virus has on certain communities.

Fifteen percent of the people infected are under 17. Individuals between 18 to 29 years are 16% of our population, but account for 24% of the cases total cases, the most of any age group.

Those between the ages of 30 to 39 account for 19% of known infections, and the trend goes down as people get older.

Epidemiologists said that if you look at vaccination by age group, there’s a revealing flip-flop in the data.

As of Thursday, the two younger groups, those between 12 and 17 and those 18 to 29, have about 65% of the population with at least one dose. Those are the lowest vaccination rates, and they get higher as people get older.

Epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller said that is party why it is so clear to health officials that vaccination is preventing infections.

“So what does it tell you? It tells you that we’ve done a good job getting the older people vaccinated,” he said. “Which is good, but if we want to reduce transmission, we need to get vaccination into the younger people.”

Health officials are also watching the time delay between high infections and people being hospitalized.

At the beginning of March, COVID-19 patients only occupied 25 beds, according to Hawaii Emergency Management. On August 19, they filled 71.

Hospitalization rates also tell officials where to focus their efforts.

People who are white make up 25% of the population, but only 12% of hospitalizations. Twenty percent of those who end up in the hospital are Native Hawaiian, which is about proportionate to their population.

Data then shows a huge disparity among Pacific Islanders, who are only 4% of the population but are 24% of people in hospitals.

There is another big gap for Filipinos, who make up 22% of people who end up in the hospital and only 16% of the population.

Most other ethnicities are hospitalized at rates lower than their population, according to DOH data.

This data is what health officials said should be prompting our leaders to make informed decisions about our future.

“Without it, we wouldn’t know how to plan our interventions, we wouldn’t know where things are going,” Miller said. “It’s everything in being able to have a sound epidemiological response.”

What does DeWolfe Miller get from all this data? The state is in a crisis.

He said based on these trends, it will likely get worse. He encourages people to help themselves and others and to get vaccinated.

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