LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Numbers don't lie: 97% of all COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the UofL Health system since April have been unvaccinated, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith.

What You Need To Know

  • Nearly all COVID patients admitted to UofL Health are unvaccinated

  • The statewide unvaccinated hospital admission rate is 92%

  • Vaccinated people can still contract COVID, but symptoms are typically mild

  • Fewer than half of Kentucky residents are fully vaccinated

Smith explained the conversations he and his medical staff often have with unvaccinated patients who come to the hospital for treatment. Some patients, he said, have asked for a vaccine after already being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.

“The answer is no, it’s too late,” Smith explained. “That’s a sentiment you see pretty regularly.”

Others are surprised they could contract the COVID-19 delta variant after previously recovering from another version of the virus.

“You’re looking at something that spreads three to five times easier between individuals,” Smith said. “The second thing is it’s slightly different enough that people that were infected with the original strain, if you’ve not been vaccinated, don’t have protection against it. So, you’re seeing a second infection from people that got infected previously.”

Louisville’s unvaccinated hospitalization rate closely mirrors those statewide.

“95% of all of our cases are unvaccinated since March 1,” Dr. Steven Stack said during a media briefing Thursday. “92% of all of our hospitalizations are unvaccinated.”

Stack, Kentucky’s health commissioner, was blunt about Kentucky’s status in fending off the virus.

“We have changed, in the blink of an eye, from a quiet, calm state to a horribly inflamed state,” he said. Indeed, most Kentucky counties have spiked in caseloads. The statewide positivity rate rose from 1.99% on July 1 to 8.29% on July 28.

Later in the briefing, Stack was noticeably disheartened about public apprehension to getting vaccinated.

“The vaccines work and I’ve tried to be flat and simple about this,” he exhaled. “It’s not really begging folks to go get vaccinated. It’s sort of like wondering why folks wouldn’t want to be protected from this when you can get a vaccine that others provide at no additional cost to anyone, that protects you from all of these harms.”

Smith agreed getting vaccinated is what’s most important. And, he said, even if someone is vaccinated, they should get tested if they feel sick.

“The vaccine is 91-92% percent effective,” he said. “But that does still leave a margin of error for those that have gotten a vaccine that could still get COVID.”

Vaccinated people can still get COVID-19. But if they get a vaccine, there’s a very high chance their worst symptoms can be dealt with at home and not in intensive care with a breathing tube in their throat.