Latest figures on Australian ICUs underscore need for greater vaccination

Utilising data from SPRINT-SARI Australia, the vaccination status of nearly 700 COVID-19 positive people admitted to intensive care wards in Australia, has been examined.

Latest figures since the national vaccine campaign was commenced (22 February 2021), show that of 574 people with COVID-19 who were admitted to intensive care, and their vaccination status was known:

  • 86% were unvaccinated (492/574)
  • 12% had received one dose (69/574)
  • 2% had received two doses (13/574)

Data from Australian hospitals and intensive care units shows that of those people admitted to ICU with COVID-19, only 2% were fully vaccinated. Moreover, in recent weeks, younger people, including pregnant women, feature more prominently among people admitted to ICUs with COVID-19, signalling a need to shift the focus of vaccinations to these groups.

Younger people admitted to ICUs typically require less invasive treatment, likely as a result of fewer age-related comorbidities, and greater baseline physiological capacity.

Professor Andrew Udy, SPRINT-SARI Australia Co-Lead and Intensive Care Clinician (Alfred Health) explains;

“These results show the substantial benefit provided by increased vaccinations. But until greater coverage is obtained, our ICUs and frontline health workers will continue to be under strain, as we manage what is increasingly becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Our message is simple – if you can get vaccinated, do so.

“Regardless of the invasiveness of treatment required, any stay in an ICU is associated with potential long-term physical and mental health issues. Being that sick is a truly draining experience that can impact lives long past the discharge point, and our preference is that those who can get vaccinated do so, and avoid a stay in ICU entirely.”

Professor Allen Cheng, SPRINT-SARI Australia Management Committee and Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine adds;

“Vaccination, contact tracing and continued broad community measures, such as mask-wearing, are the major tools we have to control transmission.

“The shift in age of those admitted to ICUs is anticipated, given older Australians were prioritised during the early phases of roll-out. These figures again underscore just how much protection vaccinations offer in terms of your likelihood of getting seriously unwell with COVID-19.”

SPRINT-SARI Australia is a hospital-based surveillance database that enables real-time tracking and reporting of the sickest patients with COVID-19 in Australian hospitals and intensive care units.

It is a major national collaboration led by researchers at Monash University, in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group. SPRINT-SARI Australia routinely provides data to both federal and state governments on patient outcomes, as well as providing snapshots of the strain on Australia’s intensive care services.

Read more on SPRINT-SARI Australia: Monash SPHPM project page

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