Vaccination information for Eagle County’s recently deceased won’t be revealed
Question came up at county commissioners meeting on Tuesday
Inquiring minds want to know if the three people who recently died of the coronavirus in Eagle County were vaccinated from the virus.
That information has not been released, and on Tuesday, attendees to an Eagle County commissioner’s meeting asked the question and did not receive an answer.
“We (receive) that data that indicates the total amount of cases, and the total target that we’re going for cases … however we don’t seem to have the information that we would need to show us how many of those cases of infected people are vaccinated at this time,” said one local resident.
“Why aren’t we privy to the fact whether they were vaccinated or not?” another Eagle County resident asked before suggesting, incorrectly, that as many as 12 people hospitalized locally for coronavirus have been vaccinated.
Public health director Heath Harmon can’t share the vaccination information on the deceased due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, but Harmon confirmed in an email Wednesday that two vaccinated people, not 12, have been hospitalized locally for coronavirus in 2021.
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“In Colorado (and every state for that matter), there are confidentiality requirements that limit the ability to share medical information when the numbers are small (in this case three) and then can be used to potentially identify the person or associate the medical information with the person,” Harmon said of the vaccination information on the recently deceased.
The county can share information in a larger aggregate form to convey important information, however, which is how Harmon was able to reveal that two vaccinated people have been hospitalized in Eagle County.
‘Vaccines can not eliminate risk’
Harmon shared the following information related to coronavirus vaccines and hospitalizations in Eagle County:
“Since Jan. 1 of this year, there have been 58 hospitalizations for Eagle County residents. Among all of these hospitalizations, two were fully vaccinated. The vaccines help prevent illness and spread and protect against severe disease. COVID 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. Nationally there have been 1507 deaths among fully vaccinated people out of 164 million people that were fully vaccinated — this means 9 deaths have occurred out of 1,000,000 that were fully vaccinated.
“It is important to note that while any COVID death is a tragedy, the likelihood of someone who is fully vaccinated dying from COVID remains incredibly small.
“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.
“Vaccines are very helpful to decrease risk, but they can not eliminate risk. It remains important for everyone to understand when COVID risks are higher in the community and the precautions that can be taken in addition to vaccination to protect themselves, family members, and friends.”