Vaccination status for recent COVID-19 fatalities in Eagle County is protected info
Since beginning of the pandemic, public health officials have only released victims’ sex, age and date of death
Wednesday’s announcement of three additional Eagle County COVID-19 deaths during the past two weeks set off a flurry of questions regarding the vaccination status of the three individuals.
According to Heath Harmon, director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment, vaccination status is protected medical information that cannot be released through his office.
“We want to convey our deepest condolences to the families of these three community members. Each death has a profound impact on our entire community,” Harmon said. “Although we cannot discuss specific medical history or protected health information for any COVID-19 cases, we do acknowledge the important questions this raises for many of our community members.”
Throughout the pandemic, the only information provided by local health officials regarding COVID-19 fatalities has been the age and sex of the victim and the date of death. Any additional information reported by the Vail Daily was provided by victims’ families or other authorized individuals.
Harmon said he understands community members’ desire for addition information, especially in cases of severe COVID-19 cases and fatalities. With the three new deaths, the virus has now claimed 26 Eagle County residents since it arrived in March 2020.
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“Severe disease, hospitalization, and deaths have been rare for our community,” Harmon said. “However, I believe the impact to our community can at times be even larger, given our smaller population and the connection we often have directly with one or many of our fallen community members.”
Harmon noted that since Jan. 1 of this year, there have been 58 COVID-19 hospitalizations for Eagle County residents.
“Among all of these hospitalizations, two were fully vaccinated,” he said. “The vaccines help prevent illness and spread and protect against severe disease. COVID-19 vaccines are really good, but not perfect. Unfortunately, some fully vaccinated people will get ill, fewer will be hospitalized, and even fewer can die as a result of COVID-19.”
Harmon reported that nationally there have been 1,507 deaths among fully vaccinated people out of 164 million people who have been fully vaccinated. He noted that translated into nine deaths out over every 1 million people who are were fully vaccinated.
“Vaccines are very helpful to decrease risk, but they cannot eliminate risk,” he said. “It remains important for everyone to understand when COVID-19 risks are higher in the community and the precautions that can be taken in addition to vaccination to protect themselves, family members, and friends.”
“It is important to note that while any COVID-19 death is a tragedy, the likelihood of someone who is fully vaccinated dying from COVID-19 remains incredibly small,” Harmon continued. “Although numbers and comparisons can help convey a sense of risk, I don’t want numbers to minimize or dehumanize the impact of losing 26 of our community members. Each has had a devastating and emotional ripple that touches all of us.”