(Joplin, MO) – Like at many health systems around the world, Mercy Hospital Joplin has recently seen instances of individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 contracting the virus and testing positive, sometimes even requiring hospitalization.
While that may seem like the vaccines are ineffective, it comes as no surprise to most health care experts. All along, the goal of the vaccines was to prevent the severest cases of COVID-19, not to completely eliminate transmission.
“It’s important to remember that vaccines are developed to prevent people from getting sick and dying,” said Mercy Joplin’s Dr. Eden Esguerra, an infectious disease specialist. “Fortunately, the vaccine also reduces transmission and infections, but no vaccine can eliminate those completely. If a person who has been vaccinated contracts COVID-19, that is sometimes referred to as a ‘breakthrough’ infection. We’ve seen that these patients have much less severe symptoms than those who are not vaccinated.”
At Mercy Joplin this week, as many as 25 people who are COVID-19 positive were hospitalized. Of those, only three were fully vaccinated and one was partially vaccinated. Of the four vaccinated, the person who was partially immunized is the only one who is hospitalized for COVID-related issues. The three fully vaccinated patients were in the hospital for other reasons, and are asymptomatic.
“COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on a steady increase the past several weeks in Joplin, leading to the same kinds of concerns around resources, staffing and bed capacity, as we faced a year ago,” said Jeremy Drinkwitz, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “We’ve seen several weeks of data now since the vaccines have been available that tells us that these vaccines keep people out of the Intensive Care Unit and the hospital. Vaccinations are absolutely critical to putting the pandemic behind us. Please, if you’re able to, roll up your sleeve and get your shot.”
Vaccines have never been more accessible, and Pfizer’s in particular, which Mercy has adequate supply of, has been approved for use in those as young as 12. Scheduled appointments are available here, and Mercy also offers vaccinations on a walk-in basis.
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems for four consecutive years by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy is one of the nation’s most highly integrated, multi-state health care systems, including more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, convenient urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. Mercy has 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, more than 4,000 Mercy Clinic physicians and advanced practitioners and 40,000-plus co-workers serving patients and families across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy’s IT division, Mercy Technology Services, and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast.
Jordan Larimore, Senior Media Relations & Communications
Mercy Hospital Joplin