COVID

Watch: Ashish Jha warns unvaccinated individuals are facing a ‘very dangerous moment’ in the pandemic

“People are ending up in hospitals in unprecedented numbers.”

Facing another fall in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ashish Jha spoke Wednesday about how America is broken in two — the vaccinated and the unvaccinated — as the virus continues to spread.

The dean of the Brown School of Public Health reminded viewers on “Good Morning America” that while fully vaccinated individuals may still experience a breakthrough infection, the illness will likely be mild. 

“They’re not going to end up in the hospital,” he said. “But for people who are not vaccinated, this is a very, very dangerous moment. People are ending up in hospitals in unprecedented numbers.”

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Unvaccinated individuals are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who have been fully vaccinated, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last month.

For the first time since March, the nation is averaging more than 1,500 COVID-19 deaths a day. Health officials have said almost all the people dying from the disease are unvaccinated.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said at a briefing of the White House COVID-19 Response Team in July. “Our biggest concern is we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.”

With the highly contagious delta variant driving new cases across the country, the United States has also seen hospitalizations for children and adolescents soar. Vaccines have only been approved for individuals 12 years old and above. 

For teens who were unvaccinated, the hospitalization rate was 10 times higher than those who did get the shots, according to The New York Times

Jha said kids who are not vaccinated are largely getting infected by the adults in their lives. 

“We have a lot of work to do to protect kids,” he said.

Infectious disease experts, including Jha and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have repeatedly said over the course of the pandemic that the best way to protect unvaccinated children is to surround them with vaccinated adults and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as masks. 

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