Looking at statistics from the month of August, the New Jersey Hospital Association has found that amid the spread of the delta variant, vaccination against COVID-19 played a large role in keeping many patients out of hospitals in the Garden State.

"Nearly 3 out of 4 people who are in the hospital today with COVID were not vaccinated," Kerry McKean Kelly, NJHA vice president of communications and member services, said. "Those are hospitalizations that could have been prevented, to a large degree."

NJHA's Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation, or CHART, analysis showed 73.3% of those hospitalized in August were not vaccinated, 3% were partially vaccinated and 23.7% were fully vaccinated.

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On the surface, while those percentages suggest a somewhat lower vaccine efficacy than advertised, the numbers expressed as rates within the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations tell a different story.

The 730 unvaccinated hospital patients in the month of August equate to 26.33 per 100,000 unvaccinated New Jerseyans, of which there were 2.7 million as of the end of last month.

Meanwhile, 265 vaccinated patients hospitalized works out to 4.33 per 100,000 among those who have gotten their shots — 5.6 million having completed a full vaccine regimen by August's close.

From there, McKean Kelly said, the comparative math is simple.

"If you are unvaccinated and you contract COVID, you have a six times greater chance of ending up with serious COVID illness that requires hospitalization," she said.

McKean Kelly acknowledged that the delta variant seemed to affect children more, and more severely, and that their cases played a role in the hospitalization increases throughout August.

"Nearly 77% of (children hospitalized) had not been vaccinated, and of course we know that the vaccine is available for people starting at age 12," McKean Kelly said.

Emergency use authorization for children under 12, which has yet to happen, is just one piece of the vaccine puzzle, according to McKean Kelly.

"Continued vaccination is very important," she said. "We need to expand immunity across more people, all across the state."

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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