A Scripps Health nurse treats a coronavirus patient in an ICU. Image from Scripps video

San Diego County public health officials reminded residents Thursday COVID-19 remains a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” as the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among the less- than-fully-vaccinated population.

According to the latest county Health and Human Services Agency weekly COVID report, since March 1, more than 96% of hospitalizations — 2,150 — and nearly 89% of deaths — 208 — have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated. In comparison, the report, which covers data through Sept. 11, shows that 75 fully vaccinated San Diegans have required hospitalization and 26 have died.

Furthermore, 81.3% — or 65,635 — of the COVID-19 cases in that time frame have occurred in San Diegans who are not fully vaccinated compared to 19.7%  — or 15,138 — cases in people who were fully vaccinated.

In the last 30 days, 21,741 cases and 548 hospitalizations have occurred in those not fully vaccinated, compared with 5,587 cases and nine hospitalizations for those fully vaccinated.

“While we’ve seen a higher number of breakthrough infections, almost all of the deaths and hospitalizations are occurring in San Diegans who are not fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “The COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to get out of this pandemic. Protect yourself and others. Get vaccinated now.”

A total of 57 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the past week, the highest weekly total during this current surge of the pandemic — and more than triple the 18 COVID-19 deaths reported the previous seven days and more than the 49 announced the week before that.

The new deaths occurred between Aug. 19 and Sept. 13, and 11 of the 57 people who died were fully vaccinated. The deceased were 34 men and 23 women; 54 had underlying medical conditions, one did not and two had medical history pending.

Of the 57 deaths, 15 were 80 years of age or older, 11 were in their 70s, 22 were in their 60s, four were in their 50s, two were in their 40s and three were in their 30s.

A total of 3,983 San Diegans have died from COVID-19 in the region, while the cumulative case count increased to 346,934.

“These deaths are very unfortunate. Our condolences go out to their family and friends,” Wooten said. “COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and can prevent San Diegans from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized or, worse, dying.”

Nearly 4.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with around 2.5 million — or 87.1% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.16 million, or around 77.2% of the county’s eligible population.

No-cost COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. They can be found at medical providers, pharmacies, community clinics and county public health centers for people who do not have a medical provider.

A list of locations and more information is available at coronavirus- sd.com/vaccine.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.