The scientific trail toward the highest levels of protection against COVID-19 — a pathway blazed with data generated here in Pennsylvania — leads directly to the vaccines.

Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam and Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital, Tuesday underscored Pennsylvania data collected from COVID case study research over nearly nine months.

“With nearly seven million Pennsylvanians fully vaccinated, the data makes it clear: the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19,” Beam said during a briefing at Penn Medicine in Lancaster.

Ripchinski said that while masking and social distancing help to reduce the risk of becoming infected or transmitting COVID-19, “vaccines are the most effective way to protect those who are vulnerable, including the immunocompromised and our children, who are too young to get the vaccine.”

They both cited Pennsylvania data gathered since this past January, which show:

97 percent of COVID-19 related deaths were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Among a total of 6,472 COVID-19-related deaths identified in Pennsylvania this year, 213 or 3 percent, occurred among those who had been fully vaccinated. Cumulative deaths among those who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, were 7.9 times as high as those who were fully vaccinated.

95 percent of reported hospitalizations for COVID-19 as the primary diagnosis or cause for admission were more prevalent among those who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Among 34,468 hospital admissions for coronavirus, 1,820 — 5.28 percent — of the patients were fully vaccinated.

94 percent of reported COVID-19 cases were in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people. Among a total of 639,729 positive cases, there were 35,389 people — 6 percent — who were fully vaccinated.

“This data is further proof that the vaccines are our best tool to protect ourselves against the virus, keep our children learning in schools, keep our workforce in-person and foster social and economic recovery,” Beam said. “I truly hope that this data encourages everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to speak to their doctor about getting the vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and the people around them.”

So do we.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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