MEDFORD, Ore. — July, August, and September of this year were the deadliest three months of the coronavirus pandemic for Jackson County, public health officials said on Wednesday, despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
Deaths during this period of the Delta variant surge also trended younger. Jackson County Public Health reported 138 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the third quarter of 2021. While the average age of death during the first quarter of the year was 79 years old, it dropped to 68 years old during the third quarter.
Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center
“What these past months showed us is that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and very effective at preventing hospitalizations, severe illness, and death,” said Dr. Jim Shames, health officer for Jackson County. “The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it can cause more severe illness than previous variants. Our community saw how contagious this variant is with record number of cases and how severely ill people became with record number of unvaccinated people hospitalized, in the ICU, on ventilators and dying from COVID-19.”
Most deaths were among people who were not vaccinated against COVID-19.
“To date, out of the total number of COVID-19 deaths (298), 258 were unvaccinated,” said Tanya Phillips, health promotion manager for Jackson County Public Health.
Public health officials once again underlined that all of the FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines have shown substantial protection against hospitalization from COVID-19. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that among US adults without immunocompromising conditions, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalization during March 11 through August 15 was highest for the Moderna vaccine (93%), followed by the PfizerBioNTech vaccine (88%) and the Janssen vaccine (71%).
Daily case counts and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have dropped considerably since the last peak in August and early September. JCPH reported 66 new cases on Wednesday. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in both Jackson and Josephine counties is now a total of 50, with 17 patients in intensive care.
The two latest death reports, which brought Jackson County's total up to 298, were an 86-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man who each died at their private residences. Both had underlying conditions.