Nearly all of the people in the state who have died from COVID-19 since the end of January were unvaccinated, according to data the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) recently provided to MarylandReporter.com.
MDH provided the data on Monday. It said that since Jan. 26, 1,525 people in Maryland have died from COVID-19. The deaths included 1,464 people who had not been vaccinated and 61 people who had been vaccinated. All told, that means that 96% of the people who died from COVID had not been vaccinated.
“This underscores the reason for people getting life-saving vaccines as soon as possible,” MDH Deputy Director of Communications Charles Gischlar said.
“The numbers are more evident that the vaccine works,” former Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said. “There is a large amount of data that is consistent showing that people who are vaccinated are much less likely to get seriously ill or die.”
Sharfstein said the vaccine is not an automatic guarantee against serious illness or even death but is nevertheless extremely potent.
“There are some people who do not respond to the vaccine because of medical conditions that they have. Even if you are vaccinated there is a tiny chance of getting seriously ill if you get exposed to enough of the virus. But by-and-large the vaccine provides an incredible level of protection.”
Sharfstein poured cold water on a recent claim by anti-vaxxers that has been featured on some parts of the internet that says that more than 12,000 Americans have died as a direct result of the vaccine. Those claiming those deaths point to VAERs data (Vaccine Adverse Event System), but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a review of death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has failed to establish a causal link to all COVID-19 vaccines but did confirm at least three deaths have occurred in connection with blood-clotting linked to the vaccine.
“We have to base our decisions on good evidence, not rumors or misinformation. You just have to stop by a hospital to see how serious it can be. It is probative. And the evidence from multiple countries, multiple studies, is very strong about the value of the vaccine.”
Del. Matt Morgan, R-St. Mary’s, who sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee, said for the most part the numbers provided by the MDH make sense.
“I think they fall in line with everything that we have been told in the media and fall in line with what is really common sense at this point. We are in the middle of a pandemic.”
However, Morgan, emphasized that he has some concerns about the timeline of the data.
“I would like to see those numbers dug into a little deeper…The vaccine was not really readily available to everyone until April. So why are you going back to January?…I think that that is really skewing the statistics a little bit, trying to get an apples to oranges comparison.”
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, R-Lower Shore, who sits on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement to MarylandReporter.com that the MDH numbers are hardly surprising.
“We should not be surprised that the overwhelming number of people who have died or hospitalized are unvaccinated. I continue to work with local health officials to increase the number of vaccinated in my district which includes Somerset County, one of the lowest vaccinated rates in Maryland.”
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called the MDH numbers “sobering” and said they are “totally expected.”
The Democrat not only represents the state’s largest county but also its most vaccinated jurisdiction.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, about 85% of the eligible adult population in Montgomery County is fully vaccinated and about 94% of its eligible adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
As for the antivaxxers, they need to get with the program, Elrich said.
“They need to just deal with reality and get vaccinated.”
About 80% of people in Maryland have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 56% are fully vaccinated, according to the MDH.
Nationally, about 51% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, which makes Maryland the sixth most vaccinated state.