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Prisma Health reports spike in COVID hospitalizations of younger people

On Thursday, Prisma Health announced more than a 15 percent increase in hospitalizations for younger adults.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Thursday, Prisma Health announced more than a 15 percent increase in hospitalizations of younger adults. 

"This morning, we have 304 positive COVID-19 patients within our health care system," said Dr. Steve Shelton, Emergency Medical Physician at Prisma Health. "Comparing that to July 2, when we had 12, you can see quite the impact we've had and the surge we are experiencing."

Dr. Shelton said the Palmetto State's number of hospitalizations are near where they were during the peak during July of 2020 with 321. He said doctors are seeing a spike in younger patients this time around. 

Since January, hospitalizations have increased for people 20-59 years old. 

"Our 20-39 age range went from 6.5% to 21.7%," Dr. Shelton said. "In the 40-59 age group, another big change there—we went from 17.9 to 31.5 percent."

Some University of South Carolina students said they don't want to get the vaccine right now. 

"The more they push it, the less I want to get it; that’s just because I don’t like to be told what to do, necessarily," Zoey said. "I’m definitely not anti-vaxxer. I fully support anyone who wants to get vaccinated. But myself, I want to wait it out and I’ve already had COVID once, too. I know there’s new strains and new variants but I want to test the waters before I dive into the pool and get the vaccine."

Her roommate, Anna, said she has already had COVID, too and doesn't think she needs to get her shot at the moment. 

“I’ve already gotten it, so I do have the antibodies," Anna said. "I’ve been in environments and around people that have had COVID, and I didn’t get it another time."

Even with antibodies, health experts still encourage people to get their vaccine. Prisma Health Infectious Disease Doctor Helmut Albrecht said vaccination rates among teens are not the problem. 

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"The lowest rate of vaccination by age is actually not 12-18. They're lagging behind, too, but it's 18-24," Dr. Albrecht said.

Dr. Albrecht said more than half of those ages 20 to 59 years old are still unvaccinated. Of the 304 patients currently hospitalized, 88.5% of them were unvaccinated.

"The vaccinated rate is highest at above age 60, so it's shifting to unvaccinated populations wherever they are," Dr. Albrecht said. "So, it's getting younger and younger."

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He adds if you are unvaccinated, find a vaccine site now. Individuals who can't get vaccinated, like young children, are depending on others to protect them.

Prisma Health's Children's Hospital in Richland County is reporting 10 children in the ICU as of Thursday.

"You need to help us out," Dr. Albrecht said. "If you have not been vaccinated, find any chance and any reason in your mind that you may get vaccinated. Please do so. We depend on you to protect our 0 to 12-year-olds."

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