Local health experts: COVID-19 patients are largely unvaccinated and younger than before

With COVID-19 cases rising again, experts are pointing to the Delta variant and lag in vaccination rates particularly among younger populations.

The CDC reports those least like to be vaccinated or want the vaccine are under 39 years old. 

Locally, health experts say that demographic is filling up more hospital beds than before and most are unvaccinated.

Dr. James McDeavitt, Dean of Clinical Affairs, Baylor College of Medicine, notes the high R-value or the reproduction number of the Delta variant.

"The R for the original coronavirus is about 2 to 2.5. Meaning if I get coronavirus, I will tend to infect 2 to 2.5 other people. It appears that the R value for the Delta variant is somewhere between 5 and 8," Dr. McDeavitt explained.

He warns those are not vaccinated or more likely to get infected now than they were a few months ago with the rapid spread of the Delta variant.


Memorial Hermann Health System reports their COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 60% since late last month.

"Almost all the patients who are coming in for admission to the hospital are those who haven't been vaccinated," said Dr. David Callender, CEO, Memorial Hermann Health System.

He adds they also seeing more younger patients than before.

"In fact, on average, it's about a decade younger which means that we're seeing more people in their adolescent age range, in their 20 age range, in the 30,  more than we have in the past," Dr. Callender noted.

A CDC survey found the most common reasons young adults did not intend to get the vaccine are concerns about side effects, not trusting the vaccines, and not believing they need one.

Dr. Rubina Khan with Legacy Community Health says those are also the most common concerns she hears from her patients. 

"Young people, they feel invincible. They feel like it's not really going to affect them or they won't get that sick, and so they feel there's no need for the vaccine," Dr. Khan explained.


With young adults in low income communities least likely to want the vaccine, Khan hopes more efforts will focus there.

"I feel there's a lack of enough pharmacies and enough education in those areas," she added.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with Legacy Community Health, click here.